Lamb Chops with Port, Fig & Balsamic

February 11, 2012

Honest disagreement is often a good sign of progress.
~Mahatma Gandhi

These finger wielded morsels, carved from a lamb loin rack are sometimes dubbed “lollipops” especially when the bones are frenched (i.e., when the meat on the long bone ends is resected). At this house, the debate rages whether or not to french as some serious next-to-the-bone cooks and eats are discarded in favor of the look. Wasteful of the tasteful, to me. Others rightfully differ and prefer degloved–the chops do appear more elegant. Kitchen diplomacy is ever at work.


1 rack of lamb, evenly cut into single chops
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
1/2 T thyme leaves, minced

2 T olive oil
1 T unsalted butter
3 plump, fresh garlic cloves, peeled and smashed
2 rosemary sprigs

1/2 C ruby port
3 T chicken stock
1/4 C fine Provençal red fig preserves
1-2 T aged balsamic vinegar of Modena

Fresh rosemary sprigs

Season lamb with salt, pepper and thyme. In a large, heavy sauté pan, add the olive oil, butter, garlic and rosemary sprigs and heat over medium high until simmering. But, do not brown the butter or garlic. Remove and discard garlic and rosemary then add lamb chops and sauté until browned some and just medium rare, about 3 minutes per side. Remove lamb chops from heat and tent with foil.

Increase heat, add port to pan and reduce some scraping and stirring with a wooden spatula. Then add chicken stock and reduce further, occasionally stirring. Moderate heat throughout to maintain a lively simmer. Whisk in preserves first until dissolved and then balsamic vinegar, cooking and stirring until reduced to a saucy consistency which nicely coats both sides of the spoon or spatula. As needed, season the sauce with salt and pepper to your liking.

Briefly re-introduce lamb chops to pan and turn to coat with sauce and heat some.

Serve arranged on platter, drizzle with pan reduction and garnish with just a few fresh rosemary sprigs.

Pourboire: alternatively, you can briefly grill the lamb chops at the outset, dropping rosemary sprigs onto the hot coals. On the back end, consider a light touch of chopped toasted pistachios and chiffonaded fresh mint as garnishes in lieu of the rosemary sprigs.

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