While I like artichokes, I do not love them, and I assumed the effort they would take to cook would outweigh they satisfaction they would bring. However, it being New Year's Day yesterday, I was feeling particularly ambitious despite being slightly under the weather from the previous evening's debauchery. I had purchased some lamb chops and wanted to do something interesting and festive with them. I spotted a box of baby artichokes at the store and recalled a recipe in Thomas Keller's Ad Hoc at Home that paired lamb chops with artichokes. Given my apprehensions about cooking artichokes in the first place, I'm not sure why I even considered a Thomas Keller preparation, which surely would be extremely nitpicky about trimming the vegetables just so and take twice as long as any other recipe; I'll blame my decision on the alcohol from the night before.
To my surprise, even going by Chef Keller's precise directions, the preparing the artichokes was no more difficult than peeling a carrot (and a lot less dangerous!). Trim off the stem. Cut off the outer leaves at the base. Trim the top 1/2 inch of the artichoke, and then they are ready to cook. It's exactly as easy as it sounds. As for the lamb chops, well they went perfectly with the Mediterranean sauce of the artichokes, olives, capers, and tomatoes. I can only hope that this dish bodes well for 2011.
Lamb Chops with Artichokes, Olives and Capers
Adapted from Ad Hoc at Home
- 6 baby artichokes, cleaned and trimmed as per the instructions above
- juice of 1 lemon
- salt and pepper
- 4 lamb loin chops
- 3 tbsp olive oil
- 2 garlic cloves, crushed and skin left on
- 4 thyme springs
- 1/2 cup pitted kalamata olives
- 1 tbsp capers, drained
- 1/4 cup canned roasted tomatoes
- Preheat the oven to 350F.
- Put the trimmed artichokes in medium bowl and cover with the water and lemon juice. Stir the artichokes for a few seconds.
- Pour the artichokes and lemon water into a medium sauce pan. If necessary, pour in additional water to cover. Add a pinch of salt and place a damp kitchen towel on top of the artichokes to ensure that they remain completely submerged. Bring to a simmer over medium-high heat and cook until the artichokes are completely tender, 10 to 15 minutes. Remove the artichokes to a medium bowl and add just enough of the cooking water to cover. Set aside.
- Season the lamb chops on both sides with salt and pepper.
- Heat the olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat.
- Add the lamb chops and cook until well-browned on one side, 3 to 4 minutes. Flip the lamb chops and cook the other side until well-browned, 2 to 3 minutes. Add the garlic cloves and thyme to the pan. Baste the chops occasionally with the fat in the pan.
- Place the skillet in the oven and cook until the lamb chops are cooked through, about 7 to 8 minutes for medium-rare. Remove from the oven and allow the chops rest for 5 to 10 minutes.
- While the lamb chops are in the oven, prepare the sauce. Pour 1 tbsp olive oil in a medium sauce pan and heat over medium heat. Add the artichokes and cook for about a minute. Add the olives and capers and cook for another 30 seconds. Add the tomatoes and cook for another 2 minutes. Season the sauce to taste with salt and pepper.
- Serve the lamb chops immediately, topped with the artichoke sauce.