Rib of the Week: Garlic & Rosemary Lamb Lollipop Chops

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Lamb rib chops�often called lollipop chops when the bone is frenched�are an oh-so-sweet appetizer that’s simple to make and impressive to present. They’re easy to eat, and much more elegant than a big, meaty rib.

The rib chops develop a handsome brown crust from being seared with rosemary and garlic�both classic flavors for lamb.


A sprinkle of fresh, minced mint at the very end gives them an extra burst of bright, fresh flavor.

So what is a lamb rib chop, anyway?

Lamb rib meat is super tender and very flavorful. Basically, a lamb rib chop is what you’d get if you cut a rack of lamb up into chops.

Because they’re so tender�and petite�they only need to cook for a few minutes on each side, making them an ideal fast-and-fabulous party food. They’re best broiled, grilled, or pan-seared.

The thing I love most about them? Lamb rib chops basically come with a built-in handle.

This is more technique than exact recipe. It’s easy to scale up or down, depending on the crowd you’re feeding. This time, I only had a few chops.

This article demonstrates how to french a lamb rib chop, then how to pan sear them. For thicker, extra-fancy chops, buy a rack of lamb and carve it into double chops (two bones per chop) yourself.

Lamb Lollipop Chops: To french or not to french

Frenching the bone like this is a *wee* bit wasteful, depending on how much meat you cut away. (There’s usually not too much meat near the end of the bone.)

Frenching is also totally optional, and depends largely on how you want to present and serve them.

Garlic & Rosemary Lamb Lollipop Chops

Lamb rib chops
Kosher salt
Olive oil
Fresh rosemary, minced
Fresh garlic, mashed
Freshly cracked black pepper
Fresh mint, minced, for garnish

Garlic & Rosemary Lamb Lollipops: How to french a lamb rib chop

Grab your lamb rib chops. Give them a quick rinse under cold water. Pat them dry.

For my lamb lollipops, I like to leave about 2 inches of rib bone totally bare. You sometimes see these cut down so that only the large round of meat is left on the bone. I prefer to leave a little more meat on my bone. It’s less wasteful and still makes for a lovely presentation.

With a very sharp knife, cut through the fat and meat down to the bone on all sides, like this:

Next, flip the chop over, so the underside of the rib is facing up. Slice the meat away on each side, getting as close to the bone as you can.

Next, flip the rib back over. Run your knife under the meat on top of the bone, slicing it off.

At this point the bone should be fairly bare. With the edge of your knife, scrape off the remaining meat and fat.

Finally, flip the chop over again, so the bottom of the rib is facing up. There’s a thin skin clinging to the back of the bone. Scrape that off, too.

Go over the bone and scrape off any larger bits that you’ve missed. When you’re finished, your bone should look about like this:

Any little bits (like this) left clinging to the bone will pretty much cook off.

You’ll wind up with a little pile of scraps. Toss it in a baggie in the fridge and save for when you’d like to add a little lamb-y flavor to dishes.

Or, if you have a very (very, very) well behaved dog, fry those scraps up for a treat that will likely make him lose his mind.

Repeat with the rest of your ribs.

I did have one rib in my package that was missing a large piece of bone. It went into the pan with the others. It may have been missing its handle, but it was just as tasty.

Garlic & Rosemary Lamb Lollipops: Marinate the lamb rib chops

Once you’ve frenched the lamb rib chops, it’s time to season them. Sprinkle them with kosher salt to taste.

Drizzle them with olive oil. Rub the oil on all sides.

Sprinkle with minced rosemary.

Smear each rib with garlic.

Add freshly cracked pepper to taste.

If you like, marinate the ribs like this overnight in the fridge. Otherwise, they’re ready to cook.

Garlic & Rosemary Lamb Lollipops: Pan sear the lamb rib chops

Drizzle a little olive oil in a large, heavy-bottomed frying pan. Set it on the stove over medium-high heat for a minute or two to heat up.

When the pan is nice and hot, drop in your chops.

Sear them like this for a few minutes, until they’ve developed a nice brown crust on the bottom. (The time will vary from maybe 3-6 minutes per side, depending on how rare you like your lamb.) If the pan starts to smoke, lower the heat a bit.

When they have a nice crust, flip them over.

Sear them on this side for about the same amount of time as you cooked the other side, so the chops cook evenly.

When they have a nice brown crust on the bottom, yank them out of the pan. Let them rest for maybe 5 minutes to help them stay juicy.

Garlic & Rosemary Lamb Lollipops: How do you know when your lamb is cooked?

Good question. The truth is, lamb rib chops are little things, so they’re actually easy to overcook. If you’re a food thermometer kind of person, medium rare is 145 degrees, and medium is 160 degrees.

Otherwise, use your eyes and your sense of touch. Your chops should have a good brown crust on each side. The meat, when pressed should be firm, and shouldn’t feel at all squishy. When in doubt, cut a little nick into one and take a peek. The meat should be pink-ish and opaque, not translucent.

Garlic & Rosemary Lamb Lollipops: Serve and enjoy!

Garnish with a little freshly chopped mint.

Enjoy!

Enjoy!

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Jessie Cross is a cookbook author and creator of The Hungry Mouse, a monster online food blog w/500+ recipes. When she's not shopping for cheese or baking pies, Jessie serves as an Associate Creative Director at PARTNERS+simons, a boutique ad agency in Boston. She lives in Salem, Massachusetts with her husband and two small, fluffy wolves.

43 COMMENTS

  1. Those look fantastic! Lamb is one of my all time favorite things. I never get to make it though because my girlfriend won’t try it. I keep trying to tell her that the cuter the animal is, the better the meat is but she just doesn’t believe me! 😉

  2. Yum! I love lamb. I miss the days when I was working the australia marketplace during epcot’s food and wine festival. We used to do quality control on the lamb.(oops did I say that too loud? I mean, we never did that stuff.)

    Another way to clean the bone is to take butcher’s twine and wrap it under the slit you make and pull. I think it’s more cathartic tho. After a long day, it’s very relaxing to pull that bit off. Letting out a grunt or two helps as well.

    • Wheeee! Oh, now THAT must have been a fun job! Wow. I had a few similar, um, experiences back when I worked catering. 😀

      Thanks for the tip on the butcher’s twine. I’ll give that a shot next time.

      Cheers!
      +Jessie

  3. I have never made lamb myself. Growing up – my mom used to cook it and just the smell made me ill. HOWEVER not so long ago I actually tried some in an Indian restaurant and it was delicious! I have have to try this recipe myself as a first – and see if I like it! Thanks Jessie!

    • Oh, oh! Give this a try. The little things are very forgiving to cook. Just don’t step away from the pan. They’re easy to overcook if you like ’em medium rare. Let me know how it goes! (And tell Grumpy: This is a rib, too!)

      +Jessie

  4. That’s a very elegant dish. Lamb and rosemary go together like fish and chips.

    There are so many variations on this recipe…I’m toying with something Indian at the moment.

    • Hehe, thanks, hon! Happy to be of service.

      OH. I was chatting with Cajun Chef Ryan Boudreaux the other day, and he reminded me that it would go faster with a boning knife. Definitely a good tip.

      +Jessie

  5. Instead of rosemary and garlic try freshly ground/cracked fennel seed, black pepper, salt and chili flakes. When I do them, I put the fennel seed, peppercorns and chili flakes into my mortar and add the really chunky gray sea salt and mash it all up. It’s divine. And we call them meat-sicles!

  6. Great photos and instructions, thank you!

    Have you ever made these in advance, and reheated? Does it work. I have a party this Saturday (non-sit down)- and would love to have the cooking done in advance.

    • Hey there!

      Thanks so much!

      You can definitely marinate them in advance, but honestly, I think they’re best when they’re freshly cookes. It also depends on how you like your lamb. I like mine pink side. If you make them ahead then reheat them, they’ll be brown throughout. Lamb can also get a little rubbery if you overcook it.

      Let me know how they turn out!
      +Jessie

  7. My husband and I are serving these tonight at our dinner party. We love your step-by-step instructions and I think it’s something my husband can handle his first time as the chef of the entire meal. After 32 years of marriage, he’s decided he wants to take up cooking and couldn’t be any happier.

  8. Can I salt, rosemary, garlic and oil the lamb several hours before I’m going to cook them??? Sometimes salt will dry out a meat. Help fast, I’m making them tonight

  9. These were delicious!! I bought the racks already frenched at Sam’s. We just had to slice them into individual chops. We cooked on the grill and I made a mint garlic sauce to dip in. They were incredible.

  10. So excited! We love lamb, but it is hard to find since we moved. I finally found some and can’t wait to eat them!

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