Counting Sheep (respectfully, of course…)
Jan 14th, 2014
The phrase “respect the ingredients” gets thrown around a lot in culinary circles. No, it doesn’t mean you call your steaks “Sir” before tossing them on a grill, only to burn them to a bland crisp. And no, it doesn’t mean you buy the cow flowers every time you pick up a gallon of milk.
Really, it just means that when you take the time to buy really good ingredients, don’t do too much with them, and be sure to cook them with the same care that it took to bring them to the store in such beautiful condition.
A recent trip to Albertsons introduced me to three particularly exceptional ingredients: lamb loin chops, baby carrots, and purple fingerling potatoes. The lamb chops are these gorgeous little thick-cut gems that fit in the palm of your hand. The baby carrots definitely add some color and style to the dish, but each has a flavor unique to itself. In Idaho, potatoes may not be anything to do cartwheels over, but these little purple treasures are completely different from our mighty Russets – rich and velvety.
So here’s where the respect part comes in. The best thing anyone can do with these ingredients is to allow them to be what they are. That means exercising restraint and precision when seasoning and cooking. All that’s needed are: sea salt, cracked black pepper, butter, and fresh rosemary.
But most importantly, you must have – MUST HAVE- a cast-iron skillet. There is no substitute.
There are countless ways to prepare the carrots and potatoes, but I opted for simplicity. I peeled the carrots and sautéed them in butter with salt and pepper, but left them a bit crisp. I halved the potatoes, sprinkled them with salt and pepper and baked them at 350F for 25 minutes.
After crusting the lamb chops in sea salt and cracked, black pepper, I heated the cast-iron skillet to med-high, then melted a half stick of butter in the pan, and added two sprigs of fresh rosemary. Then I placed the chops in the pan and seared them on each side for about two minutes, then placed them in the oven for ten minutes.
Once the chops were done, I set them aside for a few minutes to rest and let the juices redistribute. At this point, you could plate everything, or deglaze the pan with a little white wine and some cream for a beautiful sauce.
The final show of respect is to eat every morsel. This is also the easiest show of respect. Suffice to say: everyone showed me (well, the ingredients really) one helluva lotta respect.
Lamb loin chops with Baby Carrots and Purple Fingerling Potatoes
9 lamb loin chops (or 3 per person)
3 bunches of baby carrots (1 orange, 1 purple, 1 yellow)
2lbs of purple fingerling potatoes
Cracked black pepper
Fresh rosemary (2 sprigs)
White wine (optional)
- Season lamb chops on both sides with sea salt and black pepper
- Halve potatoes and bake at 350F for 25 minutes
- Heat cast-iron skillet to medium-high
- Add half a stick of butter and rosemary to the skillet
- Once butter is melted, add chops to the skillet
- Sear on each side for approximately 2 minutes
- Place in over at 350F for 10 minutes
- In another pan, sauté carrots in butter, salt and pepper
- Remove lamb and set aside to allow the meat to rest
10. (OPTIONAL) Return skillet to heat, remove rosemary, add white wine and cream (1/2 cup each) and reduce
11. Plate, serve and eat. Enjoy.