Pan Seared Lamb Loin Chops with Garlic Cream Sauce

The thing that makes this dish is the garlic cream sauce.  A fusion between Mediterranean and French flavor profiles, this dish is at the same time both tangy and mellow, sweet and savory and all-around amazing.

Time – Active: 60 minutes
Time – Inactive:  2-4 hours of marination for the lamb and 45 minutes to roast garlic
Level: Easy
Cost: $8-10/plate
Serves: 4-6

Ingredients

For the Lamb:

  1. 2-3 lbs Lamb Loin Chops (figure on 3 per person; they’re about 1/4lb each)
  2. Juice of two lemons (divided)
  3. 6-8 garlic cloves, minced
  4. Kosher salt and pepper
  5. 1/4 cup olive oil
  6. 2 TBSP clarified butter, Canola, or vegetable oil

For the Garlic Cream Sauce:

  1. 3 heads (that’s right, heads) of garlic
  2. 3 TBSP olive oil
  3. 2 TBSP unsalted butter
  4. 1 small shallot, minced
  5. 1/4 cup brandy
  6. 1/2 cup dry white wine
  7. 1 140z can low sodium chicken broth
  8. 1/4 cup heavy cream
  9. Salt, to taste
  10. Juice of 1 lemon.

Instructions

Combine 1/4 cup olive oil, minced garlic, juice of three lemons, salt and pepper, and lamb loin chops in a mixing bowl and toss to coat.  Cover and refrigerate.  Allow to marinate for 2-4 hours.

Preheat the oven to 400°F.

Remove most of the outer paper from your 3 heads of garlic.  Cut the top off the heads (opposite the root end), exposing the garlic cloves inside.  Drizzle 1 TBSP olive oil over each clove.  Place in an oven safe baking dish, cut side up, and cover tightly with aluminum foil.  Place in oven and roast until very soft and sweet, about 45 minutes.  (Begin checking after 30 minutes; use a cake tester or toothpick to test for softness).  Remove from oven and allow to cool, remaining covered.

Reduce oven temperature to 275°F.  Place marinated lamb loins on a wire rack set on a baking sheet, and bake until internal temperature is around 125°F, approximately 30 -45 minutes (cook with temperature not time; use an instant read thermometer to verify).

While the lamb is coming up to temp in the oven, use a butter knife to help coax the roasted garlic cloves out of the heads.  They will be soft and sticky so if they come apart a bit that’s okay.  Reserve the roasted cloves in a small bowl.

Once the lamb is up to temp, remove from the oven and allow to rest for a couple of minutes under loose foil.  Meanwhile, in a large heavy bottomed skillet or sauté pan, heat either 2 TBSP clarified butter, vegetable or Canola oil until very hot, around 400°F.  Carefully add the lamb loins to the hot pan, and sear, about 3 minutes on each side until deeply browned and you have a nice crust on your lamb and a beautiful fond in your pan.

Note:  Work in batches if you have to.  4-6 loins at a time is probably a good number, but remember:  each time you add a loin to the pan, you reduce the overall pan temperature somewhat.  Add too many and your lamb loins will steam, not brown.

Once you’ve got your lamb seared off, remove them from the pan and allow them to rest on the wire racked baking sheet loosely tented with aluminum foil while you make the garlic cream sauce.

Pour off the fat in the pan and lower the heat.  Melt 2 TBSP unsalted butter in the pan.  Once butter is melted but still slightly foamy, add the minced shallot and sauté until fragrant, 1 minute, being careful not to brown.  Add 1/4 cup brandy and flambé.  Add white wine and chicken broth and bring to a boil, scraping up any remaining fond from the bottom of the pan.  Add 1/4 cup heavy cream and reduce sauce until thickened to desired consistency, 8 – 10 minutes.  Once sauce is thickened, off the heat and stir for 2-3 minutes to bring down the overall temperature.

 Note:  For a smoother, creamier sauce, use an immersion blender to pureé or transfer contents of the pan to a blender and blend until smooth.

Squeeze juice of one lemon into sauce and stir to incorporate.  Taste for seasoning and adjust with salt and/or pepper as necessary.

Note:  Lemon and cream taste great together, but they are not friends.  If you add the lemon while the sauce is still too hot, the acidity in the lemon will curdle your cream sauce, and that will suck.  So make sure it is cooled down somewhat before adding the lemon juice.  Also, pro-tip: never add cream to a sauce with lemon already in it as that will almost always result in curdling the cream; instead, do it in the order prescribed here:  Reduce cream sauce, off the heat, allow to cool, and stir in lemon juice at the end.

Serve lamb with rice pilaf, Caesar Salad, and garlic cream sauce on the side.

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