Meat on a stick is always a winner, especially when it’s gorgeous little golden brown lollipops of tender, juicy lamb. But my vegetarians!! I haven’t forgotten about you! The chile-pesto beans that I use as a side here are so delicious, they could (should) be their very own dish. Pull up any reason to enjoy this stunning combination of flavors and dig in!
PS. I did it in a cast iron skillet, but this lamb chop preparation works exceptionally well on the grill if you’re cooking outside these days.
1 lamb rack (8 ribs), cut into individual lollipops
1 can Cannellini beans, drained
4 oz feta cheese
½ cup whole milk yogurt
1 tbsp ground cumin
1 tsp garlic salt
1 tsp crushed coriander seeds
Juice of 1 lime
Additional salt to taste (I added another ½ tsp)
Chili Garlic Herb Pesto:
½ cup fresh mint
2 cups parsley (flat leaf preferred)
2 cups arugula
1 cup olive oil
4 garlic cloves, smashed and peeled
1 serrano or other spicy chile, thinly sliced
3-4 scallions, thinly sliced
½ cup walnuts
Juice and zest of 1 lime
1-2 tsp honey (optional)
Sea salt & Freshly Cracked Black Pepper
•Whisk together the yogurt, spices, and lime juice in a small bowl. Pour yogurt mix over lamb chops and rub all sides to coat. Lamb chops should marinate at least 20 minutes and up to 3 hours. Refrigerate until 20 minutes before cooking when lamb should be put on the countertop to allow the chill to wear off.
•Process A – blanching! Submerging greens in hot water for a few seconds kills off the enzymes that accelerate browning in fresh herb pastes (pestos) and also gets you a silkier emulsification and texture. It does require an extra step though, so if you want to skip, proceed to Process B! Prepare a large pot of boiling salted water and a large bowl with ice water. Add raw herbs and greens to a sieve (working in batches as needed) and plunge greens into boiling salted water for 15 seconds before submerging in ice water to shock (stop) the cooking process. Use your hands to squeeze and ring out as much water as you can before placing the greens back into the sieve over a medium bowl. Any additional liquid that drains off can be discarded. Alternatively, you can lay them out on a dishtowel to continue to dry until you are ready to use.
•Process B – no blanching! This is a much quicker process with less clean up, and the flavor from the fresh herbs and greens is slightly more pungent. However, what starts as a gorgeous, bright green paste will soon turn a bit muddier. Taste will still be stupendous, so entirely up to you! If you are not blanching, simply gather together your fresh herbs and greens and continue with the rest of the pesto process.
•Add ¼ cup olive oil, garlic, half the scallions and half the chile to a small pot. Over medium-low heat, bring the oil to a simmer and cook 2-3 minutes. Remove from heat and allow oil to cool with aromatics.
•In a food processor fitted with the blade attachment, pulse together your blanched herbs, greens and walnuts until a crumbly texture forms. Add lime zest & lime juice.
•In the video, I added ¾ cup olive oil to the chili garlic oil to speed its cool down since I was tight on time and drizzled from there. If you’ve had time for the infused oil to cool fully, simply add it to the bowl of the food processor along with honey to taste and season with salt and black pepper. Turn the machine on to puree and slowly drizzle in up to an additional ¾ cup of olive oil until a smooth and loose pesto forms. Taste for additional seasoning.
•Using the same pot used to infuse the oil, gently heat Cannellini beans and pesto mix over a low heat, stirring occasionally, just until the beans are heated through. Don’t overcook to avoid muting the fresh, bright flavor of the pesto. Set aside until ready to eat.
•Thoroughly coat a cast iron skillet with olive oil and bring to shimmering over medium-high heat before adding lamb chops to the pan, being careful not to overcrowd. Cook each lamb chop 2-3 minutes on each side for medium (or longer/shorter to desired doneness), waiting until a gorgeous crust forms on the underside of the meat and it naturally releases from the pan before turning – if you’re fighting to get it to release, it is too soon to flip. I also add a minute on the outer edge of each chop to help render any fat cap and get a nice golden brown crisp there as well.
•When ready to serve, create a beautiful base of pesto Cannellini beans on a serving plate. Stack lamb chops to create some height and flare. Top with feta cheese and a scattering of reserved scallions and chile. Feel like a damn kitchen goddess!!!! And enjoy.