What is it about spring? There’s such an air of excitement around at the moment. The sun’s out, the sunglasses are coming out of their winter hibernation and there is some pretty exciting food out there on offer. I know a lot of people struggle with lamb, especially if they see them bouncing about in a field, but to me (the terribly human that I am) it is an absolute treat when you start to see lamb coming through. So for the first of this year’s lamb recipes, let’s get something to enjoy on these new-found sunny weekends: lamb chops with mint and feta.
When I picked up some lamb chops last weekend I have my culinary sights set firmly trained on a couple of recipes from one of my favourite cook books, Nigel Slater’s Kitchen Diaries. This book goes throughout the year with different recipes as their ingredients come in to season and it is one I go back to time after time – if you don’t have a copy, I would highly recommend it.
My slight problem was which lamb recipe to choose. There was one with mint and lemon and another with feta and thyme. I couldn’t decide which to go for at all and with time running out before I had to be somewhere. I decided it was time for a recipe mashup.
Yup, like its musical counterpart, my mashup took some of the most interesting parts of both recipes, altered it according to what I actually had in the house and combined it to make one of the best recipes I think I’ve put on The Usual Saucepans: lamb chops with mint and feta, drizzled with a balsamic reduction. Heaven.
I served mine with a light kale salad and a large glass of wine, but you could easily use some peas or baby new potatoes covered in melted butter – the choice is yours!
Lamb chops with mint and feta
This recipe is a mash up of a couple of recipes from Nigel Slater’s Kitchen Diaries. It takes a couple of hours to marinate and then about ten minutes in a hot pan or a bbq grill. It serves two. This is perfect for fresh-in seasonal lamb chops and lazy weekend dinners in the sun.
2 lamb chops
1 small red onion
75g feta cheese
3 tbsp olive oil
1 handful of fresh mint
2 tbsp lime juice
Salt and Pepper
2 tbsp balsamic vinegar
Muddle about three quarters of the mint and put in a bowl/bag along 2 tbsp olive oil, the lime juice and a good pinch of salt and black pepper. Mix the marinade together and add in the lamb chops. Ensure the chops are covered in the marinade and leave for at least two hours to let the flavour sink in (even better, do this first thing in the morning and leave in the fridge until dinner; remember to take them out of the fridge about 30 minutes before cooking).
When you’re ready to cook thinly slice your onion root to tip and soften using a large frying pan (or in a tinfoil dish, if on a BBQ) and the remaining olive oil. When they are beginning to soften add the two chops and about half of the marinade.
The lamb will take a different length of time to cook depending on its thickness and how you like yours done. You can tell how cooked the lamb is by prodding the top with a finger, the ‘squishier’ it feels, the pinker the inside will be. If will take longer on the BBQ. If the pan is getting dry add the remaining marinade juices before anything burns.
Once the chops are cooked remove from the pan and add to the plates. There should still be some juices left and into this crumble in the feta and the mint. Some of the feta will melt but remove the pan from the heat once about a third of the cheese has lost its shape. Gently combine the onions, juices and feta in the pan, then add to the plates.
Finally pour the balsamic vinegar into the pan to deglaze it and return to the heat to reduce the balsamic. Once about a third of it is gone, drizzle over the meat.
Sit in the sun and eat away, preferably with a decent glass of wine.
Used in this recipe: