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THE CONFIDENT COOK

Recipe: For the Easter table, pan-sear lamb chops and sprinkle with mint gremolata

Pan-Seared Lamb Chops with Mint Gremolata
Pan-Seared Lamb Chops with Mint GremolataKaroline Boehm Goodnick for The Boston Globe

Serves 6

There are quite a few reasons why lamb chops may be just right on your Easter table this year, even if everything else about the celebration doesn't look like years past. You might have found some chops buried in the back of your freezer, or you want to support your local butcher, or maybe Easter just doesn't feel like a celebration without lamb, so you thought ahead and placed a delivery order. If possible, ask the butcher to cut the racks into chops for you, but if that isn't an option, slice between the bones to create six to eight chops per rack that are equally sized. Or buy rib lamb chops already sliced, or lamb loin chops. In fine dining, cooks often "French" the ends of the bones (clean them completely for a classic presentation), but right now that seems like a silly waste. Brown the outer edge of the chops in batches, rendering off some of the fat. You will use this fat to crisp the cut sides. Lean the chops on each other to keep them standing up. There should be sufficient fat rendered in the pan, but if it seems as though there isn't, add a touch more olive oil. Lamb chops cook quickly, and most diners prefer them medium rare; stay close to the skillet while they are cooking. When they're done, let them rest for a few minutes while you mix mint gremolata with the fresh, aromatic leaves, lemon and orange rind, and garlic. Serve them with whatever is plentiful in the pantry -- rice, potatoes, pasta, couscous, and green peas are all good options. If lamb won't be on the holiday menu this year, use the same marinade for chicken, pork, or beef, and if mint isn't in your larder, substitute parsley, cilantro, or even toasted breadcrumbs. All workarounds are OK.

LAMB

3tablespoons olive oil
4cloves garlic, finely chopped
2teaspoons coarsely ground black pepper
¼teaspoon crushed red pepper
Salt, to taste
2 lamb racks, cut into individual chops
Juice of 1 lemon

1. In a bowl, combine 2 tablespoons of the olive oil, garlic, and black and red pepper. Mix together and rub onto the lamb chops. Marinate in the refrigerator for at least 1 hour or as long as overnight.

2. Remove the lamb from the refrigerator; let the chops sit at room temperature for 15 minutes. Sprinkle the lamb with salt.

3. In a large skillet over medium heat, heat the remaining 1 tablespoon olive oil. Working in batches, set the chops in the pan with the fat cap down, leaning them against each other to keep them standing up. Cook them this way for 3 to 5 minutes, or until the fat has rendered and what remains on the chops is brown and crispy. Transfer them to a plate. Repeat with the remaining chops.

4. Raise the heat to medium-high. Again, working in batches, set the chops in the pan cut-sides down. Cook them for 2 to 4 minutes on a side, or until well browned and a meat thermometer inserted into the thickest part of a chop registers 125 degrees. Transfer to a platter. Sprinkle with lemon juice. Let the chops rest for 5 minutes.

GREMOLATA

cup chopped fresh mint
Grated rind of 1 lemon
Grated rind of 1 orange
1clove garlic, finely chopped

1. In a small bowl, stir together the mint, lemon and orange rind, and garlic.

2. Sprinkle the gremolata over the chops.

Karoline Boehm Goodnick

Serves 6

There are quite a few reasons why lamb chops may be just right on your Easter table this year, even if everything else about the celebration doesn't look like years past. You might have found some chops buried in the back of your freezer, or you want to support your local butcher, or maybe Easter just doesn't feel like a celebration without lamb, so you thought ahead and placed a delivery order. If possible, ask the butcher to cut the racks into chops for you, but if that isn't an option, slice between the bones to create six to eight chops per rack that are equally sized. Or buy rib lamb chops already sliced, or lamb loin chops. In fine dining, cooks often "French" the ends of the bones (clean them completely for a classic presentation), but right now that seems like a silly waste. Brown the outer edge of the chops in batches, rendering off some of the fat. You will use this fat to crisp the cut sides. Lean the chops on each other to keep them standing up. There should be sufficient fat rendered in the pan, but if it seems as though there isn't, add a touch more olive oil. Lamb chops cook quickly, and most diners prefer them medium rare; stay close to the skillet while they are cooking. When they're done, let them rest for a few minutes while you mix mint gremolata with the fresh, aromatic leaves, lemon and orange rind, and garlic. Serve them with whatever is plentiful in the pantry -- rice, potatoes, pasta, couscous, and green peas are all good options. If lamb won't be on the holiday menu this year, use the same marinade for chicken, pork, or beef, and if mint isn't in your larder, substitute parsley, cilantro, or even toasted breadcrumbs. All workarounds are OK.

LAMB

3tablespoons olive oil
4cloves garlic, finely chopped
2teaspoons coarsely ground black pepper
¼teaspoon crushed red pepper
Salt, to taste
2 lamb racks, cut into individual chops
Juice of 1 lemon

1. In a bowl, combine 2 tablespoons of the olive oil, garlic, and black and red pepper. Mix together and rub onto the lamb chops. Marinate in the refrigerator for at least 1 hour or as long as overnight.

2. Remove the lamb from the refrigerator; let the chops sit at room temperature for 15 minutes. Sprinkle the lamb with salt.

3. In a large skillet over medium heat, heat the remaining 1 tablespoon olive oil. Working in batches, set the chops in the pan with the fat cap down, leaning them against each other to keep them standing up. Cook them this way for 3 to 5 minutes, or until the fat has rendered and what remains on the chops is brown and crispy. Transfer them to a plate. Repeat with the remaining chops.

4. Raise the heat to medium-high. Again, working in batches, set the chops in the pan cut-sides down. Cook them for 2 to 4 minutes on a side, or until well browned and a meat thermometer inserted into the thickest part of a chop registers 125 degrees. Transfer to a platter. Sprinkle with lemon juice. Let the chops rest for 5 minutes.

GREMOLATA

cup chopped fresh mint
Grated rind of 1 lemon
Grated rind of 1 orange
1clove garlic, finely chopped

1. In a small bowl, stir together the mint, lemon and orange rind, and garlic.

2. Sprinkle the gremolata over the chops.Karoline Boehm Goodnick