Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Lamb Chops with Pistachio Tapenade

When I first began cooking for my family, lamb was initimidating to me.  I wasn't served lamb growing up and that somehow made it a foreign, dare I say even exotic, meat.  It was the unknown which convinced me that this mysterious meat was too difficult to tackle, but it only took one or two times preparing lamb for me to realize it is neither exotic nor difficult to cook. 

This recipe is a winner.  Not only is the presentation extraordinary, the tapenade is delicious, and the directions are perfectly stated to cook a rare to medium-rare rib, depending on your preference.  Add intervals of 1-2 minutes cooking time for more well done chops.  The tapenade will be above your expectations; it is packed with flavor and every forkful proves to be better than the last. The recipe as stated makes a large quantity of tapenade.  Even when I generously piled it on each rib, I had enough left over for another 6 lamb chops at least.  That is something good to keep in mind if doubling or tripling the recipe for a crowd.


1/2 cup pistachios, shelled and toasted
1/2 cup pitted green olives
2 tablespoons capers
2 cloves garlic, smashed
1 tablespoon fresh oregano leaves, chopped
2 tablespoons parsley, chopped
Extra virgin olive oil
1 lemon, zested
Freshly ground black pepper


To make the Pistachio Tapenade
1.  In a food processor bowl, add pistachios, olives, capers, garlic, oregano, and parsley.  Pulse for 4 times, each for at least 10 seconds or until all ingredients are fully pureed.

2.  Turn food processor on and slowly drizzle extra-virgin olive oil through feed tube.  Watch ingredients in bowl and add only enough extra-virgin olive oil to transform mixture into paste.

3.  Add lemon zest to bowl and pulse one additional time to mix ingredients.  Add additional olive oil if necessary.  Set aside.

To cook lamb chops
1.  Season lamb chops generously with salt and freshly ground pepper.  Allow chops to sit at room temperature for 10-15 minutes.

2.  Preheat oven to 425 degrees.  Coat large saute pan generously with extra virgin olive oil (or other high heat cooking oil) and place on burner set to medium-high.  When oil is hot but not smoking, add chops and cook undisturbed for 2 minutes.  Lower temperature to medium heat if pan begins to smoke.

3.  Turn chops and cook other side undisturbed for two minutes.  Chops should be beautifully caramelized on both sides.  Remove chops from saute pan and place in 9 x 13 baking pan (or cookie sheet if cooking more than one batch of ribs).

4.  Generously spread pistachio tapenade on one side of each chop. 

5.  Place in preheated oven and cook for 4-5 minutes for rare and 6-7 for medium rare.  Remove from oven and let rest for at least 5 minutes before serving.

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