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!