Last Minute Easter Lunch!

Lamb Chops with Black Pepper:Pecorino ButterThis year–for the first time in more than a decade–we’ll be empty nesters on Easter Sunday! As it turns out this holiday coincides with our grandkids’ spring break so most of our clan will be away. Instead of cooking for six, I’m planning a menu for two.

Although ham was the star of Easter meals when I was growing up in the South, I’m a huge fan of lamb, and came up with the idea for grilled lamb chops topped with dollops of Pecorino/black pepper butter.

The topping is an “easy-to-put together” blending of softened sweet butter, grated Pecorino and Parmesan cheeses, plus a generous accent of coarse black pepper. The butter takes only minutes to assemble and can be prepared a couple of days ahead. At serving time the chops need less than 10 minutes on an outdoor or stovetop grill. Peas paired with crispy bits of fried pancetta tossed with a little butter and fresh mint will make a simple side while some turmeric-scented rice will round out our menu.

So if you need a last minute anchor for Easter or for any other spring celebration, consider these delicious lamb chops. The recipes that follow for the lamb and peas serve four, but they can easily be increased if you’re serving a crowd!

 

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Lamb Chops with Black Pepper Pecorino Butter

Pecorino Black Pepper Butter
4 tbsp unsalted butter, softened
1/4 cup finely grated Pecorino Romano cheese
1/4 cup finely grated Parmesan cheese (preferably Parmigiano Reggiano)
1 tsp coarsely ground black pepper

Lamb Chops
8 to 12 rib lamb chops (depending on if you want 2 or 3 chops per serving), 3/4 inch thick trimmed of excess fat
Olive oil for the grill
Kosher salt
Freshly ground black pepper
Chopped chives

1. For the Pecorino/Black Pepper butter, using a fork mix all the ingredients in a medium bowl until blended well. (The butter can be prepared 2 days ahead. Cover and refrigerate; bring to room temperature 45 minutes or longer before using.)

2. For the lamb, pat the chops dry with paper towels and season them with salt and pepper. Oil a grill and prepare it for a hot fire. Grill the chops 3 to 4 minutes per side or until rosy pink inside. You can also use a stovetop grill pan set over medium high heat. Oil the pan and grill chops, 3 to 4 minutes per side or until rosy pink inside. Remove and top each chop with a generous dollop of Pecorino Black Pepper Butter and another grating of fresh pepper. Sprinkle the chops with chives. Serves 4 with 2 to 3 chops each.

Peas, Pancetta, and Mint
1 tbsp olive oil
1/2 cup (about 2 oz) pancetta, cut in 1/4 inch cubes
2 cups fresh or frozen peas
1 1/2 tbsp unsalted butter
1 1/2 tbsp julienned fresh mint
Kosher salt

1. Heat the oil in a medium skillet over medium heat until hot. Add pancetta and cook, stirring, until golden and crisp, 3 to 4 minutes. Remove to drain on paper towels.

2. Bring a medium saucepan filled 2/3 full with water to a boil and add peas. If using fresh peas, cook 3 minutes, then drain. If using frozen ones, cook 1 minute just to heat and then drain. Return the peas to the saucepan and toss with half of the pancetta, all the butter, and all the mint. Season the peas with salt to taste. Serve peas sprinkled with the remaining pancetta as a garnish to the lamb chops. Serves 4

Copyright Betty Rosbottom 2017

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