- The Washington Times - Tuesday, June 3, 2003

For lamb lovers, this is the season to eat your fill. Supermarket meat cases stock an array of mouthwatering lamb chops so you can take advantage of the meat for summer grilling.

You should be aware, however, that no one cooking technique works for all lamb-chop cuts, so you’ll have to tailor your recipe to the chops of your choice.

If you’re planning to grill, select rib or loin chops. A rib chop has the distinctive curved rib bone anchoring the meat, while the loin chop has a T-shaped bone.

Both these lamb cuts are expensive and yield small portions of meat. When cooking for two, buy two or three chops per person and have your butcher cut the chops an inch thick so you can grill them to a rare or medium-rare stage.

Shoulder or shoulder-blade chops deliver almost twice the edible meat of the rib or loin chops at a significantly lower cost, but the meat, while very flavorful, is tougher.

Marinate the shoulder cuts for several hours in the refrigerator; then grill them. Don’t cook this lamb to a well-done state.

There is an alternative for cooking shoulder or shoulder-blade chops. It’s braising the meat, or cooking it in liquid that acts as a tenderizer.

I suggest you save rib and loin chops for a splurge on the grill and braise shoulder chops for a delicious everyday meal. That way, you’ll enjoy the robust taste of lamb at an affordable price.

If you have never braised lamb chops, the steps are simple. Dust the lamb with seasoned flour, brown it in oil and simmer the meat in an aromatic mixture of white wine and fresh rosemary for about 30 minutes.

While the lamb cooks, prepare a delicious side dish of spinach with olives and tomatoes. Serve the spinach hot or at room temperature.

Lamb chops braised in white wine

2 tablespoons flour

teaspoon salt

teaspoon pepper

2 shoulder lamb chops

2 tablespoons olive oil

1 garlic clove, minced

3/4 cup white wine

3/4 cup chicken broth

1 teaspoon minced fresh rosemary

Stir flour, salt and pepper together on a plate. Add the lamb chops and coat with flour. Heat olive oil in a saute pan. Ease lamb into the pan and brown 3 to 5 minutes on the first side over medium heat. Add garlic. Turn lamb over and brown 3 minutes on the second side. Remove lamb and set aside.

Pour white wine into the pan and scrape up any browned bits. Add chicken broth and rosemary and stir. Return lamb to the pan, cover and simmer over low heat 30 minutes, turning lamb over after 15 minutes. Makes 2 servings.

Spinach with tomatoes and olives

1 tablespoon olive oil

1 medium tomato, cored and diced

cup chopped, pitted Kalamata olives

4 cups washed, coarsely chopped baby spinach

⅛ teaspoon salt

teaspoon pepper

Heat oil over high heat in a large skillet. Add tomato, olives and spinach. The spinach will cook down quickly.

Saute 3 to 5 minutes or until vegetables are tender. Season with salt and pepper.

Makes 2 servings.

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