Anytime “Special Occasion” Lamb

Do you sometimes find yourself wanting to make a fancier dinner than normal, but can’t bring yourself to do it when it’s not for a holiday, special occasion, or for company? None of those reasons should discourage you from treating yourself and a loved one to a more elegant meal, especially one that takes less than an hour to prepare.

lamb chops

Since Easter arrived much earlier than normal this year, there’s still plenty of spring lamb to go around. There’s no need to wait until next year, nor do you need to think of lamb merely in terms of cuts for a crowd, like a whole leg or crown roast. Smaller cuts can be enjoyed on any given weeknight. Because most Americans don’t eat lamb with as much regularity as beef, chicken, or pork, it often feels more decadent whenever it is served. 

Frenched Double-cut Lamb Chops

gremolata in jar

When you don’t want to spend a lot of time in the kitchen but don’t mind spending a little more money instead (although, still arguably less than what you would pay at a restaurant), Frenched double-cut lamb chops are a great option. More forgiving than single-rib chops, double-cut chops provide a nice surface area for getting a great sear, and offer less risk of overcooking—while still cooking very quickly. Plus, fitting four of them into a pan without overcrowding is easy.

Some markets may not offer double-cut chops, or if they do, the size might be larger than you need. If this is the case, purchase a rack of lamb (it should have 8 ribs) that is about 1 1/2 pounds and ask the butcher to cut it into four two-rib portions. “Frenched” simply refers to removing the meat, fat, and connective tissue between the rib bones for a more attractive presentation. Most chops are already sold this way, but if they’re not, have the butcher to do it for you. 

The chops are simply seasoned with salt and pepper before being seared in a pan and finished in the oven. The element that makes the lamb stand out is the refreshing mint gremolata (a chopped herb condiment typically made with garlic, lemon zest and parsley), which is spread on top of the lamb chops just before serving. Plated with a simple minted pea purée, this dinner in is very much like a meal out, but in the comfort of your own home.

Pan-Roasted Lamb Chops with Minted Pea Puree

Don’t like mint? No problem. Feel free to use parsley in the lemon zest mixture instead, and leave the herbs out of the pea purée entirely. 


olive oil

1/2 cup finely minced shallot

Finely grated zest of 1 lemon

5 Tbs. finely chopped fresh mint

1 clove garlic, minced

Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

4 Frenched double-cut lamb chops, 5 to 6 oz. each

4 Tbs. olive oil

2 cups frozen or fresh shelled peas

Cooking Instructions

frying pan

1. Preheat an oven to 400°F.

2. In a small bowl, combine 1 Tbs. of the shallot, the lemon zest, 1 Tbs. of the mint, the garlic, 1 Tbs. of the oil and 1/4 tsp. salt. Set aside.

3. Pat the lamb chops dry with paper towels, then season generously with salt and pepper on both sides. Warm 1 Tbs. of the oil in a large oven-safe skillet over medium-high heat. Add the chops and cook until browned on all sides, about 2 minutes per side.

4. Transfer the pan to the oven and cook 2 to 3 minutes for medium-rare or 4 to 5 minutes for medium. Transfer to a platter and tent with foil to keep warm.

5. Meanwhile, in a saucepan, warm the remaining 2 Tbs. oil over medium heat. Add the remaining shallot and cook until softened, about 3 minutes. Add the peas and 1/2 cup water and bring to a boil over high heat. Reduce the heat to medium-low, cover and cook until tender, about 5 minutes. Transfer the mixture to a blender along with the remaining 4 Tbs. mint and 1/2 tsp. salt. Blend until smooth, about 2 minutes, stopping to scrape down the sides of the jar as needed.

6. Divide the lamb chops between two plates, and spread 1/4 of the shallot-lemon zest mixture onto each chop. Serve with the pea puree alongside.

Serves 2.