For most Italians, Easter brings lamb to the menu. The lamb can be cooked in many different ways according to region and custom. For many, roasting a leg of lamb is more of an undertaking than desired. BABY LAMB CHOPS “SCOTTADITA” is the menu choice that serves the spring need for lamb in a fast and easy way – that also provides more flavor and enjoyment than anticipated from such a simple preparation.
Growing up, my family usually prepared a spring baby lamb – roasted and marinated, in a heavenly blend of olive oil and spices, created by the “King of Marinades”, my father, Attilio. The lamb was always tender, juicy, and full of amazing flavor. Often he prepared just the leg, for this occasion. Many times, we had the incredible experience of a most delectable roasted milk fed baby goat – not to be believed. I often think back to how proud he was of this Easter dish and the fanfare with which he brought it to the table to be “blessed” with the palms of Palm Sunday from the previous week. It was his specialty, and his alone, one which we could only longingly watch in awe.
These many years later, still enjoying the thoughts of those Easters, I often satisfy my craving for lamb with a great Roman lamb dish with BABY LAMB CHOPS “SCOTTADITA” – easy, simple, quick to prepare, and with memorable flavor. It hails from the region of my mother, Lazio, where it is often called “Agnello al Scottodito”. This dish is so really wonderful that I prepare it at any time of year – but often for entertaining at Christmas and at other times when only lamb will do for an appetizer or a main course. This is a dish you will be proud to serve to your guests and family, while secretly chuckling about how little time it took to prepare.
Scottadita – means burned or cooked fingers. The chops are prepared and served so hot that when you pick them up you burn your fingers. Yes – they are meant to be eaten with your fingers. For this dish, the tradition is to grill them, but I often sear them in a pan – achieving the same result as long as they are perfectly cooked and piping hot.
So relax – pretend you spent the day in the kitchen, and run out for that last minute manicure or pedicure or round of golf and still have time to create a great meal. Shhhhh! No one will ever know —- and I certainly won’t tell them!
BABY LAMB CHOPS “SCOTTADITA”
Prep: 15 minutes
Cook: 35 minutes
8 Baby Lamb Chops Frenched – (with long bone in and trimmed)
Salt and Pepper
¼ c. Olive Oil
1 Purple Onion – sliced
3 Cloves Garlic chopped finely
3 Tbsp Fresh Sage – chopped
½ c. Dry red wine
¼ c. Balsamic Vinegar
¼ c. sugar
4 Tbsp. Crema Balsamica, Crema di Balsamico– or Fig Jam
3 Tbsp Fresh Parsley – chopped
Start with Frenched Baby Lamb Chops – ask your butcher to do this for you, if you like. This is with the long bone “in” and trimmed of all fat and extra meat bits – a very clean bone.
Salt and pepper the chops on both sides.
You may grill or pan sear your chops. Here they are seared.
Brown the chops in olive oil – a couple of minutes each side.
Remove the chops to a plate.
Add the onion, garlic , and sage, to the pan and cook until just tender – just a few minutes. Do not burn!
Add the sage.
Pour in the wine. Add the vinegar, sugar and jam or Crema Balsamica. (Fig Jam is readily available in the specialty cheese dept. of most markets. You can also use a balsamic reduction instead of Crema Balsamica or Crema di Balsamico.)
Stir and add the chops back to the pan, turning in the juices.
Place the pan in the oven at 350 degrees and cook for about 15 minutes. Turn the chops in the pan at least once during this oven cooking process.
Top with fresh chopped Parsley and serve.
For a wine pairing with this very special dish of BABY LAMB CHOPS “SCOTTADITA” , I suggest an equally special wine that will stand up to its proud and bold flavors – perhaps a Barolo or Barbera Di Alba.
PARLA COME MANGI!
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Food Photos By Tommy Hanks Photography