If pork chops and beef steaks are the only chops you sear, it’s time to try lamb chops. Lamb chops have a distinctively rich and savoury flavour, and while they’re fancy enough for a dinner party, quick-cooking lamb chops also add variety to weeknight meals.
These easy lamb chops are rubbed with fresh thyme, seared in a hot skillet, and topped with a decadent pan sauce flavoured with dry white wine, a squeeze of lemon juice, and some butter.
Lamb Chops 101
The two most popular types of lamb chops are loin/T-bone and blade/shoulder/arm chops. Lamb loin chops look like mini T-bone steaks with both the loin and filet sold as part of the steak. Lamb rib chops are a carnivore’s lollipop — they’re the individual servings cut from a rack of lamb. You may see the chops “frenched” (cleaned of the fat and meat along the bone), leaving only the tender meat at the end. ‘Frenching’ the chops is for appearance only.
Purchase lamb chops that are about one-inch thick, so that you can brown both sides without overcooking the center (for lamb, you are looking for a medium-rare cook, or 140oF). Don’t overcook.
Make a Simple Pan Sauce for the Finishing Touch
After searing the lamb chops, you’ll move them to a cutting board to rest. Don’t rush to clean the skillet, because the little brown bits (also known as the fond) that are clinging to the bottom of the pan will become the foundation of your sauce. You’ll then sauté minced shallots, crushed garlic, and a fresh sprig of thyme in the rendered fat until glossy and brown, then deglaze the pan with white wine or chicken broth and lemon juice, being sure to scrape up the fond. The acidic punch of lemon juice balances the richness of the lamb and butter (which gives the sauce body).
Serving Lamb Chops
Serve the chops with mashed potatoes or polenta to catch the pools of sauce. Lamb chops are smaller than similar cuts of beef or pork, so plan on two loin chops or two or three rib chops per person.
How To Cook Lamb Chops
YIELD: Serves 4 (2 chops per person)
PREP TIME: 8 minutes
COOK TIME: 12 minutes
8 lamb chops
1 tablespoon chopped fresh thyme leaves, plus 1 large sprig
3/4 teaspoon kosher salt, divided
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
4 tablespoons unsalted butter, divided
1 small shallot, finely chopped
1 large garlic clove, smashed
1/2 cup dry white wine or low-sodium chicken broth
1 teaspoon freshly squeezed lemon juice
1 tablespoon finely grated lemon zest
- Season the lamb. Remove the lamb chops from the refrigerator and massage the chopped thyme, 1/2 teaspoon of the salt, and pepper into the meat. Set the lamb chops aside at room temperature for 5 minutes.
- Cook the lamb. Melt 2 tablespoons of the butter in a 12-inch skillet over medium-high heat. Add the lamb chops and cook until a rich, brown crust forms on the bottom, 4 to 6 minutes (if you’re using thicker lamb chops, this could take up to 10 minutes).
- Turn the lamb. Flip the lamb chops and continue to cook until an instant-read thermometer inserted into the thickest part of the meat registers 145°F, 4 to 6 minutes more.
- Transfer to a plate. Transfer the lamb chops to a plate and cover with aluminum foil. Pour off all but 2 tablespoons of the rendered fat.
- Cook the shallot, garlic, and thyme. Reduce the heat to medium. Add the shallot, garlic, and thyme sprig to the pan and cook until shallot softens and begins to brown, about 1 minute.
- Deglaze the pan. Deglaze with the wine or broth and lemon juice, scraping any browned bits from the bottom of the pan.
- Finish the sauce. Cook until reduced by half, 1 to 2 minutes. Stir in the lemon zest, remaining 1/4 teaspoon salt, and 2 tablespoons butter. Cook until the butter melts and the sauce thicken slightly, about 1 minute. Taste and season with more salt and pepper if needed. Pour the sauce over the lamb chops and serve immediately.