I think many people are like me, they want to eat well at festive times but don’t want to spend a lot of time cooking.
For some dishes, such as pork and the like, that need to be well cooked, saving time is a fantasy. But there are still some delicious dishes that have the best of both worlds, such as my fragrant lamb chops.
Speaking of lamb, some of you may hesitate, after all, although no matter how fresh and tender the lamb, it may still smell heavily of mutton. So today I’m going to help you understand how to make lamb delicious and beyond basic.
First, the older the sheep, the stronger the mutton smell. In the supermarkets of Western countries, lamb is always less than a year old.
Second, different cuts of lamb have different strengths of the mutton smell. Chops have the mildest smell.
Third, the mutton smell is relative to the freshness of the lamb, the longer the lamb has been stored, the heavier the mutton smell.
How to Choose Lamb
The smell of fresh lamb will be mild and may be mixed with a slightly fishy smell, but it will not be pungent. If the smell is very strong do not do not buy it.
There are three points to note when looking at lamb. Firstly, the color of fresh lamb should be an even bright red or pink, without variation in color. If the color appears dark red or grayish, do not buy it.
Look at its degree of fat. Healthy lamb generally has more fat.
Look at the lines of fat running through the meat, or the ‘marbling.’ The lines of fat should be small with uniform distribution.
Check the Bones
When buying lamb on the bone, compare the thickness of the bones. Usually, the finer the bones, the younger the sheep, and the more tender the meat.
Finally, when you press the meat slightly it should be flexible, with some moisture, but not so much that it oozes out.
The most expensive cut of lamb is from the thoracic region, along the top of the spine. This part of the lamb is the most delicate, with the surrounding layers of flesh rich in fat. This makes it easy to get a tender and crisp, fragrant roast.
In most cases, this part of lamb is sold with part of the ribs called Lamb Rack. A sheep has a total of 16 ribs. A Rack of Lamb is considered a luxurious Western food and is presented as three lots of eight sheep ribs (24 ribs) formed into a circular crown-like shape. It is often reserved for special occasions or to impress dinner party guests.
If the ribs are cut, they become lamb chops, and if the fat is removed and then the ribs cleaned, they become French lamb chops. The following chart shows a comparison of two lamb chops: the upper left shows French lamb chops, the lower right shows ordinary lamb chops.
The following chart shows a comparison of two lamb chops: the upper left shows French lamb chops, the lower right shows ordinary lamb chops.
I prefer ordinary lamb chops with the layer of fat and the bones still wrapped in a thin layer of muscle. Fried, they are very delicious, and compared with the wastage of producing the visual effect of French lamb chops, ordinary lamb chops are more environmentally friendly.
Fried lamb chops with sweet and sour fresh mint sauce is a classic Western dish, but today I take it to a new noble and elegant realm.
List of ingredients (2 servings):
- 90 ml Balsamic Vinegar:
- This is not the same as Italian vinegar; balsamic vinegar is made by heating concentrated white grape juice with spices.
- 90 g brown sugar
- 7-8 lamb chops, approx. 500 g
- 1 teaspoon salt
- ½ teaspoon crushed black pepper
- 20 ml olive oil
- 25 mint leaves, sliced finely
Step 1: Make the Sweet and Sour Sauce
Take a small 14 cm diameter saucepan and add the balsamic vinegar and brown sugar. Heat on medium, stirring constantly, so that the sugar is dissolved and fully integrated into the balsamic vinegar. After boiling, continue cooking for 5 minutes, to thicken the mixture. Remove the pan from the stove and let it cool to the room temperature.
If you are using frozen lamb chops, thaw them in the refrigerator for 24 hours. Remove them from the refrigerator for half an hour ahead of cooking to let the internal temperature of the chops rise.
The cooking temperature for lamb chops is between 65-70 degrees Celsius. Taken straight from the refrigerator will have a significant impact on the cooking temperature of up to ten degrees difference. After everything is ready, sprinkle the chops with salt and black pepper.
Drizzle the olive oil over the chops. The purpose of olive oil is to reduce the loss of moisture from the meat, and to speed up the thermal conductivity, similar to controlling the heat of a computer CPU using a fan.
Using your hands or the back of silicone tongs, rub the salt, black pepper, and olive oil into the surface of the lamb evenly, on both sides.
Preheat a 26-cm diameter stainless steel frying pan for two minutes. You do not have to add oil since you have smeared it onto the chops.
The frying process will produce a lot of oil, which will reduce the pot temperature, and also affect the coloring of the meat. To reduce the oil in the pan, using your tongs, absorb the excess oil with a folded piece of kitchen paper.
If your chops are standard thickness and each has a rib bone, fry each side for two minutes. The lamb chops will be a little pink inside but are perfectly safe to eat, and will be nice and juicy.
Fried for three minutes on each side of three lamb chops the chops will be pale pink and in line with Chinese people’s eating habits. Fried for four minutes each side, the chops will become gray inside and will be firmer, but the outside will be nicely caramelized.
Hold each chop on its side to cook the fat, so it is golden brown. Place on a plate to rest for 3 minutes, during which time the internal temperature of the lamb is still rising.
Slice the washed and dried mint leaves finely. Measure out about 50 ml of the sweet and sour sauce and add the chopped mint. Serve the mint sauce as a condiment on the table for guests to add to the chops.
- The fine texture of lamb chops make them a little more forgiving of higher heat than steak, so you have a bit of tolerance as far as high heat goes without it impacting the taste – but don’t go too high.
- You can frylamb chops in anon-stick pan, a stainless-steel pan, or a cast iron pan, but which ever kind you use, it should have a thick base to maintain and conduct the heat evenly.
A non-stick pan is nice and easy to use, but long-term use of animal fats on a non-stick surface builds up and compromising the non-stick performance.
If the preheating time of a stainless-steel pan is not sufficient, the lamb chops may stick to the bottom of the pan. If they stick to the bottom of the pan, don’t panic! If you wait a little longer after the lamb has cooked it will detach from the pan’s surface.
- Mint sauceis a perfect accompaniment to lamb chops but so is mustard (American hot dog mustard, not Japanese-style mustard), so consider serving that on the table as well.