8-Spice Lamb Rib Chops
Lamb rib chops are cut from rack of lamb. See if you can find them cut into 2-rib pieces, which give you a little more flexibility in cooking time than the thinner 1-rib pieces. Butchers will often present lamb rib chops frenched, meaning that the tip of each bone is cleaned for an elegant look - frenching also creates a built-in handle for picking up the meat.
Serves 4 - 6
½ teaspoon cumin seeds
½ teaspoon caraway seeds
½ teaspoon Aleppo pepper
½ teaspoon ground turmeric
¼ teaspoon ground ginger
Pinch of ground cloves
1 teaspoon za'atar
1½ teaspoons kosher salt
Freshly ground black pepper
1½ - 2 pounds lamb rib chops, cut into 2-rib pieces
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
Place the cumin and caraway in a small, dry skillet set over medium heat. Toast the seeds, shaking the pan often, until the cumin and caraway turn a shade darker and smell very fragrant. Transfer to a mortar or spice grinder and grind to a powder. Stir in the Aleppo, turmeric, ginger, cloves, za'atar, and salt. Grind lots of black pepper over the lamb rib chops, then rub the spice blend on all sides of the lamb.
Heat a heavy-bottomed skillet over medium-high heat for 2 minutes. Swirl in the olive oil, then carefully place the lamb into the skillet. (The lamb shouldn't be crowded in the skillet; add only as many chops as will fit comfortably at one time and cook a second batch if needed). Cook for 3 minutes on the first side, flip, and cook for 3 minutes on the second side. Rotate the lamb chops so that they are resting on their narrow sides, which are often protected by a layer of fat, and cook the lamb on each narrow side for about 1 minute. Transfer the lamb to a plate, tent with foil, and let rest for 5 - 10 minutes before serving.
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