This recipe comes from chef Amy Brandwein of Wine Spectator Award of Excellence winner Centrolina in Washington, D.C. At the front of the new-school Italian osteria is a market selling many of the ingredients used in the restaurant kitchen. On the menu, dishes are geared to highlight these products in their purity.
“We try to keep our dishes to four or five flavor notes,” Brandwein says. Here the lamb chops are served with a sauce of honey, lavender and shallots, plus a simple side of roasted artichokes.
These chops are prepared in an Italian style known as scottadito, in which the chops are cut up individually, marinated and grilled. The style is often attributed to Rome and the surrounding region of Lazio, but it is popular throughout central Italy. The name means “scorched fingers,” a reference to what happens when you grab a blazing-hot chop with your bare hands. (Just try to resist.)
The side sauce starts off very thin. Brandwein recommends reducing it to the consistency of maple syrup, which means letting it burble away on the stovetop for 15 minutes or so. It will still be lovely if you don’t have the time or patience to let it reduce, but the process will reward you with greater concentration and a texture that hugs the meat if you can wait.
Marinated in a rosemary-thyme mixture and grilled for just a few minutes per side, the chops themselves are about as easy as they come. Traditionally, they are eaten lollipop-style, with your hands, but enjoy them as you please.
For more tips on how to approach pairing this dish with wine, recommended bottlings and notes on chef Amy Brandwein’s inspiration, read the companion article, "A Perfect Match: Lamb Chops With Barbaresco," in the Aug. 31, 2018, issue, via our online archives or by ordering a digital edition (Zinio or Google Play) or a back issue of the print magazine. For even more wine pairing options, WineSpectator.com members can find other recently rated Barbarescos in our Wine Ratings Search.
1. In a mixing bowl, combine garlic, rosemary, thyme and cayenne pepper. Add 3/4 cup olive oil and blend to create a paste. Rub the paste on both sides of the lamb chops. Transfer to an airtight container, cover and let marinate in the refrigerator for between 1 and 24 hours, ideally about 6.
2. Remove lamb from refrigerator and blot off any excess oil without scraping off the herbs. Let meat come to room temperature before grilling, about 20 minutes.
3. Melt the butter in a heavy-bottomed saucepan over medium-low heat. When butter is melted, add shallots and season with salt and pepper. Sauté, stirring occasionally, until shallots are completely translucent, about 10 minutes. Add honey, lavender, coriander and cumin, and cook for 1 minute, just to combine. Add vinegar and simmer until slightly reduced, about 10 minutes more. Add lemon juice and simmer for another 5 minutes or so, until slightly thickened; the sauce should be the consistency of maple syrup. Let cool.
4. Preheat the oven to 375° F. Cut the artichoke hearts into quarters or halves. On a baking sheet lined with aluminum foil, place the thyme sprigs and top with the artichoke hearts. Drizzle with 1/4 cup olive oil, salt and pepper. Roast until tender, about 10 minutes.
5. Preheat a grill or grill pan over high. Wrap lamb bones with aluminum foil to prevent scorching. Grill lamb chops to desired doneness, 3 to 5 minutes per side for medium-rare. Depending on the size of your grill, you may need to work in batches.
6. Transfer chops to a serving platter and remove aluminum foil. Drizzle with honey lavender sauce. Serve roasted artichokes and extra sauce on the side. Serves 4.