Broccoli Rabe and Melted Garlic-Stuffed Lamb Chops

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Nancy serves these chops with the Potato “Risotto” and the Roasted Mushrooms.

Ingredients

  • 2 bunches broccoli rabe
  • ¼ cup peeled whole garlic cloves
  • cup plus 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • ½ cup panko bread crumbs*
  • ½ cup Italian parsley leaves
  • ½ cup mascarpone or cream cheese
  • 1 teaspoon freshly grated lemon zest
  • kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
  • 6 “porterhouse” lamb chops, cut 2 inches thick

Method

Strip the leaves and flowers from the stems of the broccoli rabe and set aside. Parboil the stems in salted boiling water until tender, drain, and immerse them in a bowl of ice water. Drain the stems again, squeeze tightly to remove all the water, and then coarsely chop them.

Put the garlic in a small microwave container and pour in cup of the olive oil. Microwave on high for 2 minutes, or until the garlic cloves are soft when pierced with the tip of a small knife. Remove the container and strain the garlic, reserving the garlic-flavored oil for another use (like pasta with clams).

Put the panko and parsley leaves in a food processor and pulse until the bread crumbs turn green; scrape into a medium bowl. Put the reserved broccoli rabe leaves and flowers in the food processor with the chopped stems; puree. Add the mascarpone (or cream cheese) and pulse several times, until just combined. Add this mixture, the lemon zest, and the cooked garlic to the bread crumbs and mix well, mashing the garlic to a paste. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

Preheat the oven to 375°F

Cut the meat with a boning knife from both sides of the T-bone, but leave the meat attached at the top of the “T.” Season both sides of the meat. Press about ¼ cup of the breadcrumb stuffing firmly onto each side of the bone and then replace the meat. Wrap and tie string around the perimeter of the chop, going around twice. Season the meat again with salt and pepper.

Heat a large ovenproof sauté pan over high heat. Add the remaining 2 tablespoons oil, heat for a few seconds, and then add the chops. Turn the lamb chops with tongs to brown them on all sides, beginning with the fatty edges. Remove the chops and discard the fat in the pan. Return the chops to the pan and stand them on the T-bone (so that the meat is not touching the surface of the pan). Cook for 15 minutes, or until the meat registers 130°F (medium-rare) on an instant-read thermometer. Remove from the oven, cover, and keep warm for 15 minutes before serving.

* Panko are coarse, crisp Japanese bread crumbs that can be found in Asian grocery stores and specialty food markets.

It’s no secret that I am a meat lover, but no matter how perfectly cooked, how good the quality, or what it’s served with, just seeing a big ol’ grilled chop sitting in the middle of a plate gets boring. So you’ll often find our [Boulevard Restaurant, San Francisco] meat dishes rolled, wrapped, or stuffed in unusual ways. These lamb chops are a good example.

Here we’ve taken an extra-thick lamb porterhouse or “T-bone,” cut the meat away from the length of the bone, but left it attached at the “T.” Then we press a stuffing made from peppery broccoli rabe up against the bone, put the meat back, and tie the whole thing up again, so it looks like an ordinary chop but with a delicious surprise. It’s a deceptively simple way to make something rather ordinary special. Try it for your next dinner party and bask in the oohs and aahs as your guests cut into the meat and find that stuffing.

Nancy Oakes

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