Thursday, April 20, 2017

Spring loin lamb chops with artichoke

Unexpected Success

Spring is a time of rebirth. And, since I made an excellent dinner tonight that took less than 20 minutes of active cooking, tasted quite good, was ingested without complaint by one of my two children, and was enough of a detour to be considered my own recipe - well then, that warrants a rebirth of my periphrastic blogging career.

Spring is also a time of cleaning. And here is where I start with the admittedly unappetizing conceit of this dish. I was cleaning out the freezer and found a half-pack of loin lamb chops from Costco, a half-carton of beef stock, and a package of quartered artichoke hearts. Uncharacteristically, I also found a half-bottle of sauvignon blanc, lanquishing forgotten behind a ketchup bottle. With fresh rosemary left over from Easter, I knew I had the makings of culinary sufficiency, sans trip to the grocery store. This in of itself is success. But true triumph was taking 15 minutes to make the dish and setting it to simmer, leaving for the playground for 2 hours, coming home to do the finishing touches, and having it taste.... GREAT! Even little G-man agreed. (Big G-man refuses point-blank to ingest any meat product that is not in sausage form, but that is a post for another day.)

Being a mother has taught me to make use of any available ingredient when preparing dinner. Anyone who has ever been to a grocery store with a toddler can attest to the  desirability necessity of avoiding ever taking a toddler to a grocery store. While you might not have the ingredients on hand to make this dish right this second, I do hope this encourages you to take a cooking technique you know and love (for me - in this instance - braising), raid your freezer and fridge and cook something unexpected! It might just amaze you.

Spring lamb chops with artichoke

Use loin lamb chops (the kind that look like triangles - NOT the kind with stick-like bone, which is a much more expensive cut of lamb and should be cooked rare or medium rare on the grill). My husband and I don't eat a lot of meat and only eat 1 chop each, but I would say a traditional American-size serving would be 2 chops per person, hence the variation in serving size.

2-4 servings

2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
4 lamb loin chops
4 garlic cloves, peeled and minced
1 medium onion, diced
1 tablespoon chopped fresh rosemary or thyme leaves
2 cups dry white wine
2 cups beef or chicken stock
4 loin lamb chops
1 package frozen quartered artichoke hearts (Trader Joes brand preferred)

Take the artichoke hearts out of the freezer and leave on the counter whilst you prepare the lamb. Heat the oil over medium-high heat in a heavy-bottomed medium fry-pan until shimmering. Pat dry the lamb chops and season with salt and pepper. Add the chops to the pan and until browned, about 2 minutes, then flip and brown on the other side, another 2 minutes. Remove the chops to a plate.

Reduce the heat to medium and add the onion and garlic. Add more olive oil if necessary. Cook, stirring frequently, until the onion softens and sweats, about 7 minutes. Add the rosemary or thyme, then add the wine to deglaze the pan, scraping up the brown bits. Turn the heat to high and bring the wine to a boil, then add the stock and bring that to a boil. Add the lamb chops, make sure that the chops are almost completely submerged in the liquid so that they braise properly and turn the heat to low. Cover, and simmer on lowest heat for 2 hours, turning the chops over half-way through. When the meat is fork-tender (about 2 hours), remove the chops and put them on a plate and cover to keep warm. Rinse the frozen artichoke hearts with water in a colander, then add them to the broth. Turn the heat to medium, cover and cook for about 10 more minutes, or until the artichokes are cooked.

To serve place a lamp chop or two on each plate then ladle plenty of broth and artichokes over it. Serve with good bread or buttered noodles; a crisp, unfussy, green salad; and plenty of dry white wine, light-bodied red wine, or pilsner.