It has been a cold, snowy weekend. We were in the need of a little comfort food and I was thinking about saffron risotto. When I think of saffron risotto, I think of osso buco... so off to market we went.
Obviously I wasn't the only one in town dreaming of veal shanks as the butcher was sold out. New Seasons was also out of lamb shank. I settled for lamb loin chops! These lamb chops are seared on the stove, then finished in the oven - but grilling would also be an excellent choice. The frozen Dorot garlic cubes from Trader Joe's work well to make a smooth paste in this recipe. Most people can easily eat two lamb loin chops, but served with risotto, one chop is usually enough. My recipe for saffron risotto follows.
Rosemary Lamb Loin Chops
4 lamb loin chops, each about 1.5 inches thick (about 1.25 lbs.)
1 stem fresh rosemary leaves (2 Tablespoons)
2 cloves garlic
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly cracked black pepper
1 Tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for oiling skillet
Make a paste: Using a mortar and pestle, mini-chopper (or a knife!) grind the fresh rosemary leaves with the garlic, salt and pepper until it forms a coarse powder. Add one Tablespoon of olive oil and stir to combine. Rub the rosemary spice mixture over the lamb chops. Let marinate on a plate at room temperature for 30 minutes.
Heat an oven-safe skillet over medium-high heat and coat the bottom with a thin layer of olive oil. Place lamb chops into the skillet and sear for four minutes on each side, then transfer the skillet to the oven and finish for approximately 4 more minutes for medium. (More or less time, depending upon personal preference.) Makes 4 servings. Lamb loin chops with saffron risotto
2 Tablespoons olive oil
1/2 cup finely minced shallots
1 cup Arborio rice
3 to 4 cups chicken stock
1/3 teaspoon saffron strands (big pinch)
1/4 cup finely grated fresh parmesan cheese
1 Tablespoon butter
Heat the chicken stock in a small stock pan. Heat a medium soup pan and coat bottom with olive oil. Sauté the shallots until they begin to brown slightly, about two minutes. Add the rice and stir to coat completely with the oil and shallot mixture. Add a ladle full of the hot chicken stock to the rice mixture, stirring constantly over a medium to low heat. Continue stirring and ladling-in more stock as the rice absorbs the liquid and the rice is cooked throughout, but is not soft. This will take about 20 minutes. When finished cooking, a small amount of liquid should be present, so the consistency is "creamy" (like oatmeal), but not "soupy". Stir in the saffron, parmesan cheese and butter. Serve immediately. Garnish with additional cheese, black pepper or chopped parsley. Makes four servings.