Seared Lamb Chops with Indian Spice Rub

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A note from Maggie

I’ve been a fan of Christine’s work–from her very first book, Markets of New England–and was thrilled to have her offer insight on what happens when two different backgrounds in flavor meet and marry. This beautiful spice rub looks amazing on lamb, but can you imagine it on popcorn, eggs, or a bowl of fried rice? The possibilities really are limitless, which is why it is such a wonderful gift.

Also, Christine’s new cookbook, Icy, Creamy, Healthy, Sweet, comes out this April and is filled with an array of treats that will make your loved ones (young and old) smile. And isn’t that just the whole point of it all, really?

In our home, with my Indian husband’s tastes to consider, classic recipes always get a spicy twist. I’ll admit that during our first years of marriage, we struggled to find common ground in the kitchen. I tend to let the ingredients shine, with just a hint of salt and spice added, whereas my husband has been known to use up a bottle of chilli flakes in one week flat. I felt bad that he always had to douse dishes in chili flakes to get the spice he craved, and so over the years I have learned to cook with more flavor, using a heavier hand when it comes to the spices. My husband, however, has also learned to appreciate the more subtle flavors of a big crunchy salad dressed only with olive oil and lemon. Years ago, this would have been unheard of, but I guess you could say we are working it out and finding a happy middle ground.

For Easter, I wanted to make a rather traditional spread including lamb, potatoes, and spring greens, but with the spicy kick that my family has come to love. That’s where this simple spice rub comes into play–with a few key spices, you can easily make your own mix, which can then be packaged and gifted. Spooned into a nice glass spice jar, this rub tucks perfectly into an Easter basket for a spot-on holiday hostess gift. I like to tuck a few chili chocolate bars in there to play on the spicy theme, too.

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While I tend to be a vegetable-heavy cook, my husband and two sons love a hearty meat dish at each meal. I’ve had to learn how to prepare meats that used to scare me off, and lamb was one of those meats. I enlisted the help of our family friend, and graduate of Culinary Institute of America, Joey Raho, to teach me the trick to tender lamb chops. As it turns out, the trick is to sear the chops over high heat, allowing a nice brown crust to form, before transferring them to the oven to cook through. This one tip has changed my relationship to cooking lamb. It is no longer scary, and in fact, it’s quite easy.

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I serve these lamb chops, purchased at our local farmers market, with other spring market finds including asparagus, purple fingerling potatoes, green beans, and a lovely mix of spring greens. The resulting meal was immensely satisfying without being overly heavy, which in my mind, is the perfect holiday meal.

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Seared Lamb Chops with Indian Spice Rub

Serves: 4

Ingredients:

Indian Spice Rub
  • 2 tablespoons turmeric
  • 2 tablespoons cumin
  • 1 tablespoon paprika
  • 1/2 teaspoon ancho chile powder
Seared and Spicy Lamb Chops
  • 12 lamb rib chops
  • 2 tablespoons Indian Spice Rub
  • 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
  • Sea salt, to taste
  • Freshly ground black pepper, to taste

Directions:

Make the spice rub
  1. Combine the spices in a glass jar with a tight fitting lid, and use as a rub on meat and poultry.
Make the lamb chops
  1. Pat dry lamb chops, and sprinkle them liberally on both sides with spice rub. Using your hands, gently massage the rub into the chops, and then let them rest for 30 minutes.
  2. Preheat over to 350 F.
  3. In a cast iron skillet, over high heat, heat olive oil until it coats the bottom of the pan. Sprinkle lamb chops with salt and pepper, and then transfer them four at a time into the cast iron. Sear them for about 3 to 5 minutes, or until a nice brown crust has formed, and then repeat on the other side. Do not move the chops around the pan as they sear--the key to getting a nice crust is to allow them to sit. Place the seared chops on a baking sheet, and repeat with the rest of the chops.
  4. Place the baking sheet in the oven for 5 to 7 minutes (for medium rare, add 2 to 3 minutes for medium).
  5. Serve with spring vegetables and a salad of mixed spring greens, as well as roasted potatoes.

Materials

  • Glass spice jar
  • Tag
  • Colorful ribbon

Directions

  1. Spoon the Indian Spice Rub into the glass jar. Write the name and suggested use on the tag. Thread the ribbon through the tag and wrap it around the jar and tie the two ends together.
Photos styled and taken by Christine Chitnis.

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