Pan Seared Lamb Loin with Garlic and Rosemary
The Brazilian Steakhouse tends to be synonymous with one word: beef. From the signature picanha to more mainstream cuts like filet mignon, the churrascaria is a steak-lovers paradise. But Brazilians also enjoy plenty of other types of meat, including lamb. Like Americans, Brazilians often consider lamb to be a meat reserved for special occasions. Today’s recipe for lamb loin chops is ideal for the upcoming Holidays: pain seared with plenty of garlic and rosemary, it is deceptively simple and packed with flavor.
Lamb Chops vs Lamb Loin Chops
Lamb chops are harvested from the ribs of the lamb. They can be sold separately or in a rack to be carved after cooking. This cut of lamb may also be served “frenched,” with a length of rib bone polished and protruding from the meat to form a handle. Chops presented in this way are sometimes referred to as “lamb lollipops.” They tend to be the most expensive of all the cuts of lamb and are prized for their tenderness and depth of flavor.
Lamb loin chops, by contrast, are derived from the area just behind the rib cage, between the tenderloin and the flank. Loin chops can be bone-in or boneless and contain a large medallion of the adjacent tenderloin, giving them the appearance of a smaller t-bone steak. They can be slightly tougher than lamb chops since they are leaner. This means their flavor and texture are best at rare or medium rare temperatures.
What Does Lamb Taste Like?
Lamb has a similar texture to beef, but it has a slightly stronger, gamey flavor. The overall taste of the meat will vary slightly depending on where the lamb was reared and what its diet consisted of. Grass-fed lambs, for example, have a more distinct flavor that is somewhat earthy and smokey.
Is Lamb Better for You Than Beef?
Like beef, lamb is considered a red meat. As such, it is an excellent source of protein and certain vitamins and minerals, including zinc, selenium, and iron. Lamb may offer additional health benefits compared to beef, especially if it has been grass fed. This diet infuses the meat with beneficial Omega 3 fatty acids, which have been shown to prevent heart disease and aid in bone and joint health.
Lamb does have higher levels of saturated fat than beef, which means it can be somewhat higher in calories (3 oz of lamb loin has about 282 calories, compared to 3 oz of beef top loin, which has 224). However, the meat generally has less marbling, which means most of the fat is in one area that can be discarded.
How to Cook Lamb Loin Chops
Lamb loin chops are at their tastiest when cooked rare or medium rare. They do well with almost any cooking method, but especially pan searing and grilling. To get the most out of your loin chops, keep the following tips in mind before you cook them:
- Let the chops come to room temperature before cooking. This ensures a more even sear and reduces the chance of overcooking.
- Use bone-in chops. While they may not be as convenient to cut or eat as the boneless version, bones in meat act as a temperature insulator. This, again, makes for more even cooking and slows down the cooking process slightly, giving you a little wiggle room for temperature.
- Use a cast iron skillet or dutch oven. These heavy bottomed pans are ideally suited to searing meat, since they maintain a perfectly even temperature and form a beautiful crust.
- Cook in batches. You may be tempted to get all your chops into the pan at once, but you will have a much more difficult time getting that beautiful brown crust to form if the pan is too crowded. Cook your chops in batches to give them enough space to cook evenly and seal in those juices. They need to rest anyway, so don’t rush it!
Lamb Loin Chops Recipe
3 pounds lamb loin chops (bone in)
Extra virgin olive oil
Freshly ground black pepper
4 tbsp butter, unsalted
6 cloves garlic, smashed*
1/2 tbsp fresh rosemary (or 1/2 tsp dried)
1 tbsp fresh thyme (or 1 tsp dried)
- Allow your lamb loin chops to come to room temperature (about 20 minutes should do).
- Preheat a cast iron skillet over medium high heat.
- Season the lamb loin chops liberally on both sides with salt and black pepper.
- Add a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil to the preheated skillet (about a tablespoon).
- Add chops and brown on each side until a golden crust forms. This should take about 3 minutes per side.
- Remove the chops to a separate dish and lower the heat of your pan to medium. When the pan has cooled to medium, add the butter, rosemary, thyme, and smashed garlic to the pan.
- Let the butter melt and the garlic become fragrant (don’t let it burn!).
- When the butter is melted, add the chops back to the pan and cook them for another 10-15 minutes until the internal temperature is 125** degrees (medium rare).
- Serve with any remaining pan juices and fresh herbs.
*We recommend smashing or slicing the garlic to infuse its flavor into the butter without burning. If you want to mince your garlic, you will want to add it later in the cooking process (1-3 minutes before chops are done).
**The USDA recommends cooking lamb to a temperature of at least 145 degrees for food safety. However, most chefs agree that the high heat when searing will eliminate surface bacteria and other worrisome pathogens. This does not apply to ground lamb, of course, which will need to be cooked to an internal temperature of at least 160 degrees to eliminate food borne pathogens on and within the meat.
Try Your Lamb Loin Chops With These Great Side Dishes:
- Steakhouse Garlic Mashed Potatoes
- Easy Brazilian Cheese Bread (pão de queijo)
- Yuca Fries (Aipim Frito)
- Paleo Mashed Potatoes (Garlic Yuca Mash)
Premium Lamb Chops Delivered to Your Door
The best tasting meat starts with quality. At Texas de Brazil, we source only the highest rated, USDA choice meats for both our restaurant and our delivery service. Visit Texas de Brazil’s online butcher shop to have premium cuts of lamb, beef, chicken, pork, and sausage delivered right to your door. Go online to select your hand curated grill package, or choose from a la carte options (including our signature spicy rub for picanha).