Southern American meets Italian in this dish of crispy Parmesan- and herb-crusted lamb rib chops paired with a creamy lima bean purée that is perfect for a spring special occasion.
Spring lamb is generally associated with Easter and Passover celebrations, but why stop enjoying it just because those holidays have passed? Spring has only just begun, and there’s plenty of American-produced lamb year-round.
A rack of lamb usually has eight ribs. Ask your butcher to “french” the rack if it’s not already sold this way. To “french” simply means to remove all the connective tissue and fat down to the main meaty portion of the rib so that the rib bone is exposed to create an attractive presentation. That exposed rib bone provides a convenient way to turn these chops without disturbing the coating when browning.
The full rack of lamb can be tricky to cook properly. Here the rack is cut into chops, and each rib chop is cooked individually. After cooking two to three minutes per side, each rib chop will be cooked to about 130 degrees. Some slight residual cooking will occur, taking them to 135-140 degrees or medium-rare, which is perfect for lamb. If additional doneness is required, increase the oven heat to 300 degrees to gently cook to the desired temperature. A low oven is best so that the coating does not get overly browned.
I don’t use a high-end Italian cheese for the coating. I use a good-quality pre-shredded American-made Parmesan cheese like Sartori, which is readily available in the deli department of most area grocery stores.
Lima beans are a Southern staple often used in succotash. Here they are cooked with shallots and garlic until very soft, then puréed with a touch of cream, which pairs well with the crispy-coated lamb. Braised young carrots sautéed with butter and tossed with chopped fresh parsley is also a nice accompaniment.
PARMESAN AND HERB-CRUSTED LAMB CHOPS WITH LIMA BEAN PURÉE
LIMA BEAN PUREE
1 bag (12-ounces) baby lima beans, thawed under warm running water
1 cup chicken broth
1 medium shallot, coarsely chopped
1 clove garlic, coarsely chopped
2 tablespoons heavy cream
— salt and black pepper, to taste
Combine lima beans, chicken broth, shallot and garlic in a small saucepan. Bring to a boil then reduce heat to medium-low. Simmer uncovered for 10 to 12 minutes or until lima beans and vegetables are tender.
Add heavy cream and purée with an immersion blender or in a food processor. Season to taste with salt and black pepper. Keep warm.
¼ cup all-purpose flour
½ teaspoon each salt and black pepper
½ cup shredded Parmesan cheese
½ cup panko
2 tablespoons chopped fresh rosemary
2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 small lamb rack (about 1 ¾ pound), frenched, fat trimmed and sliced into 8 individual chops
¼ cup olive oil
Preheat oven to 200 degrees. Combine flour, salt and black pepper on a plate.
Place eggs in a bowl and beat to blend.
Combine cheese, panko, rosemary, parsley, garlic and salt and black pepper to taste in a bowl.
Dust lamb chops with seasoned flour, shaking off excess. Dip in eggs, then thoroughly coat with cheese, breadcrumb and herb mixture.
Heat olive oil over medium-high heat in a large skillet. Add 3 to 4 chops, reduce heat to medium and cook 2-3 minutes per side or until nicely browned. Transfer to a rack set over a baking sheet and hold warm in the oven. Repeat with remaining chops.
Serve with lima bean purée.