Loin chops are located directly behind the rib chops on a lamb. The major difference between the two is the loin chops have a bone running through the middle. They look kinda like mini t-bones. This bone makes you work harder to get the meat out, but it is worth the effort because the meat is very tender.
Lamb is traditionally paired with the big flavors of mint, garlic, rosemary, and some pungent cheeses. With these in mind, I came up with a sort of mint-laden salt crust to put on the lamb. First, the lamb would have to be seared on the stove. Then the salt crust would be put on top, and the whole thing would go under the broiler. The strong flavors wouldn’t take long to inject themselves into the meat. This was an experiment that worked out quite nicely. Please continue reading.
- 4 lamb loin chops
- Crust (see below)
Lamb Chops: Pan-Fried and Broiled with a Herb and Salt Crust of Mint, Garlic, Pine Nuts, and Parmesan Cheese
- The loin chops do not require any trimming. The fat on these tender pieces of lamb is really tasty, and there is no real need to remove it. But do what you want. Some other cuts of meat, like the leg, may require a little trimming. But for the most part lamb fat melts away when it cooks.
- Season the lamb chops with your desired flavors. Since I am using a salt crust to inject most of the flavor, I only seasoned my lamb chops with pepper. But if you were to skip the salt crust, you would want to season them with salt as well as pepper.
- Heat up a frying pan on medium, and put a little vegetable oil in the bottom. When the pan is hot, lay the lamb chops in the pan and let them sear for 4–5 minutes. Keep an eye on them while they are searing. If your pan is too hot, there will be a lot of smoke and it won’t smell very good. That means it is burning because the pan is too hot.
- Once the first side of the lamb chops has been seared, flip the chops over and sear the other side. Look at the picture to the right. Don’t flip your lamb chops until the first side looks like that. The brownest part of the lamb chops is where it was in direct contact with the pan. Sometimes sticking is a good thing.
- Mix up the salt/mint crust and apply it to the lamb chops. The recipe for the salt crust is in the upper right corner of this page. It may look similar to a pesto. It is in fact based on a recipe for a pesto that I like a lot. Put a spoonful of the sauce on each lamb chop, and put the chops under the hot broiler.
- Broil the lamb for 5 minutes or until the salt crust is browned. Remove the chops from the broiler and let them rest in the pan, covered, for 10 minutes. To serve the lamb chops, either remove the salt crust for your guests or let them. My guests enjoyed the melted cheese in the salt crust mixed with a little rice as did I.
Tips & Tricks
- If you withhold half of the salt and all the cheese in the salt/crust recipe, it can be a nice sauce to serve on the side of the lamb chop. It would basically be a mint pesto.
- Instead of the salt/herb crust, try melting some goat cheese on the lamb chops under the broiler. Just mix a little salt with chèvre and some minced garlic. Spread it about a ½ inch thick and broil it.
- Cooking the meat with high heat will help to render the fat and create caramelization through a process known as the Maillard reaction. This is a good thing.
- Don’t overcook the lamb; leave it a little pink. Once the meat gets cooked past that, it has a tendency to get a really weird texture that you won’t like.
- 5 sprigs of mint
- 1½ cups toasted pine nuts
- 4 cloves garlic
- 2½ Tbsp salt
- 1 cup cubed Parmesan cheese
Put all ingredients except the Parmesan cheese into a food processor and puree. Stir in the cubes of Parmesan. Top the lamb just before broiling.