Wine With... Indian Inspired Spicy Lamb Chops
I love lamb chops for many reasons. They cook quickly and simply.
They can easily be dressed up or down with everything from a minty pesto to a serving of kimchee. They partner beautifully with a variety of red wines. And when flavorful lamb chops are paired with the right wine, the wine becomes itself more delicious.
There are a couple of different types of lamb chops to choose from. Quick cooking loin chops, which usually weigh 3 to 4 ounces each, have a narrow bone that runs up the middle of the chop. Smaller rib chops, which are cut from the rack of lamb, may be single or double cut. I am partial to these small chops myself because they have more fat than other cuts rib chops and are therefore the most tender and tasty of all the cuts.
For very small chops, use two (or more) of them for each serving.
If you have time, pat all the ingredients into the lamb chops an hour or two before cooking them. But if time is an issue, don’t worry, as the chops will still be delicious even if you have to season them with the spice mixture just before cooking.
Serve the lamb chops with rice, baked potatoes and/or a big salad of mixed greens.
For Two Lamb Chops:
--One teaspoon olive oil
--One teaspoon Ancho chili powder
--One teaspoon Garam Masala
--½ teaspoon dried thyme
--½ teaspoon salt
--½ teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
Rub a thin veil of the olive oil on both sides of each chop.
Mix the remaining ingredients, and pat half the mixture on each side of the chop.
If you like your food extra spicy, add an extra half teaspoon or so of Ancho chili powder.
The chops may be grilled if you like, but since they cook so rapidly I prefer to pan sear them quickly over high heat in a pre-heated cast iron (or other sturdy skillet).
The lamb chops will cook more evenly if they are brought to room temperature before cooking (count on about 30-45 minutes).
To cook 4-6 lamb chops, add about one tablespoon olive oil and heat for several seconds in the skillet until the oil is very hot. Place the chops in the pan and cook them for about 3 minutes on one side, then flip them and cook on the other side for five or so minutes (for medium rare, a digital meat thermometer inserted into the meatiest part of a chop should reach 125 degrees).
The best wines to pair with lamb are generally full-to-medium bodied reds, but for those white-wine-only folks, a gutsy Chardonnay can be a good choice. For everyone else, red wine is the traditional companion for lamb chops. You’ll want a wine that is robust but perhaps not as lusty a big California Cabernet. Pinot Noir is a traditional lamb partner, but you might also like to try a Tuscan red blend or one from Provence.
Ca’ Marcanda (Gaja) Toscana IGT (Tuscany, Italy) “Promis” 2016 ($55, imported by Terlato Wines): This seems to be one of these cases where a relatively mature wine embraces the food in a surprisingly low key and enjoyable way. A sophisticated blend of Merlot, Syrah and Sangiovese, “Promis” proved an elegant partner with the lamb.
Mas de Gourgonnier, Les Baux de Provence (France) 2018 ($20, Skurnik Wines): Instead of being bowled over by the lamb chops’ powerful flavors and textures, this blend of Grenache, Syrah, Mourvèdre and Carignan grapes rises to the occasion with its own tasty charm. Mas de Gourgonnier is an organic estate.
Villa Di Capezzana, Carmignano DOCG (Tuscany, Italy) 2017 ($30, Dalla Terra Importer): A savory blend of 80% Sangiovese and 20% Cabernet Sauvignon, the wine has enough flavor and body to hold its own with the spicy lamb and its overall complexity fuses tastily with it.