Thursday, October 20, 2016

Don’t be Intimidated by Lamb!

My family is from Thessaly which is often called “the bread-basket” of Greece due to all the flat, fertile wheat fields. My mother’s family has been farmers for years and they had a flock of sheep. They still maintain large fields of wheat, corn and cotton just outside the village. My father’s family is from a village a little higher in the hills and they were shepherds and cow-herders. My uncle still had a huge flock of sheep up until the 1990s when we went to visit! That was cool for us to see, being city kids from New York. I watched my grandmother make feta and kasseri cheeses from the sheep’s milk and they served lamb for any big celebration, as well as Easter. In the US now, we still keep many of the traditions and have lamb at Easter with roasted potatoes and other seriously delicious traditional side dishes.

OK, I know lots of people are intimidated to even try cooking lamb because it’s too expensive. Some ingredients we find at the market can be very expensive (think: some cuts of steak, lobster, scallops, veal, lamb). However, you don’t need to cook a whole leg of lamb; lamb chops are the answer! My market had some really nice lamb chops so I bought them. Then, of course, they went on sale the very next day…

Others don’t like lamb because of the strong gamey taste (you are buying the wrong lamb!) or think it will come out chewy. This might be because you haven’t yet tried Greek-style lamb chops! If we go to the Greek restaurants and tavernas in Astoria here in NY for dinner, I will usually order “Paidakia (Pa-eee-tha-kia)” or grilled lamb chops. These are made well-done since that is how most Greeks like them. I know there are those out there that prefer their meat medium-rare, but seriously, try some well-done Greek lamb chops. They are rich with flavor and not at all chewy. 

Pan-Fried Lamb Chops with Sweet Potato "Noodles"
These come out so tender, you'll put down your utensils and start eating them right off the bone!

  • 7-8 rib lamb chops
  • 1 Tbsp olive oil
  • 1 Tbsp rosemary
  • 1 Tbsp thyme
  • 1/2 tsp salt (add more if you prefer)
  • 1/2 tsp pepper (add more if you prefer)
  • 2 thin sweet potatoes, spiralized into "noodles" 
  • 1 tsp olive oil
  • salt and pepper, to taste

Greek-Style Lamb Chops with Sweet Potato Noodles


Rinse the lamb chops and pat dry.

Add all the spices together on a plate and mix until uniform. 

Place each side of each lamb chop in the spice mix and press down to adhere the spices. The goal is to crust them in spices. Sprinkle more salt and pepper on the chops if you wish.

Heat your skillet under a medium-high heat before adding the oil. 

Make sure your skillet is big enough to cook the chops without overcrowding. I could fit 8 chops in my 12" pan. They also shrink during cooking. 

Sear on one side first about 5 minutes (you can also do 3-4 minutes for medium-rare, but I recommend well-done). 

Turn down the flame to medium. 

Turn the chops over and sear on the other side for another 5-6 minutes for well done or until a meat thermometer reads 170 degrees F (for medium-rare, it's another 3-4 minutes or until the thermometer reads 145 degrees F).

When done, remove the chops to a plate and cover with foil. 

Heat up some olive oil in another skillet. 

Add the sweet potato noodles and saute for about 6 minutes. Add salt and pepper near the end. 

Serve 3-4 chops per person over the sweet potato noodles.

Prep time: Cook time: Total time: Yield: 7-8 lamb chops

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