Grilled Lamb Chops With Compound Butter will certainly tantalize the senses, and is a perfect main course for your romantic Valentine's dinner at home. Of course, it is also elegant enough for a dinner party, and while this recipe is written for two, it is an easy one to scale up!
Eating is so intimate. It's very sensual. When you invite someone to sit at your table and you want to cook for them, you're inviting a person into your life.
~~ Maya Angelou
Tamara Talks (about Valentine's Day "in")
The smell of garlic, extra virgin olive oil, and fresh herbs sizzling away in my sauté pan always whet my appetite. This Italian-inspired dish has plenty of both - the lamb chops are marinated in olive oil, fresh thyme and rosemary, and garlic prior to grilling, and the spinach is simply wilted in olive oil, garlic, crushed red pepper, sherry vinegar, and combined with toasted pignolas and currants.
The pièce de résistance is the fresh herb and bleu cheese compound butter that graces the tops of these gorgeous frenched lamb chops. No idea how to french lamb chops? View How to French a Rack of Lamb. You will want to slice between the bones to form chops. I have done this myself, but typically ask my lovely butcher counter to do it for me!
What is Compound Butter?
A compound butter is what it sounds like... Butter is softened before additional ingredients are mixed in. Ingredients may include fresh herbs, spices, cheese, citrus zest, even aromatic liquids.
A few of my favorite combinations:
- lemon zest, dill, feta cheese is perfect for spring and pairs beautifully with grilled veggies, seafood and chicken
- rosemary and garlic pairs well with steak and bread (we don't eat red meat or bread often though)
- fresh mint and garlic is a "go to" for fresh English peas
- this bleu cheese and herb compound butter is a favorite combination for any red meat - lamb, beef, elk, even quail and duck
How to Store Compound Butter
We don't eat very much butter... compound or straight. I wrap my compound butters in parchment or waxed paper then put the log in a freezer zip bag and label it.
Your compound butter will keep in the refrigerator for several days, and up to 2 months in the freezer. Be sure to bring frozen compound butter to refrigerator temperature to make it sliceable.
How to Make Grilled Lamb Chops With Compound Butter
This dish is not complicated, and actually comes together almost too quickly. (Is that even possible?) The key lies in the preparation.
If you're "pulling out all the stops," and making my first course Seared Scallop With Mushroom Risotto from my last post, get that started. Now is the perfect time to open that bottle of wine. 😉 Plan on 45-60 minutes to make the risotto. Then make the compound butter. When you actually cook lamb and spinach, it'll be done in less than 10 minutes.
- Marinate the lamb - Get your lamb into the marinade so it can soak as long as possible.
- Make the compound butter - Combine the ingredients thoroughly, and put it into the refrigerator to chill. Keep in mind the benefit of having compound butters in the freezer, and double it for another meal. 🙂
- Grill the lamb chops - I have my sous chef/hubby grill the chops while I make the Roman-style spinach side dish.
How to Make Roman-Style Spinach
- Cover the currants with boiling water, toast the pignolas (pine nuts), and start the sauté with the garlic and crushed red pepper.
- Sear the first side on the lamb chops, add the sherry vinegar, currants, and pignolas to the pan.
- Turn the chops.
- Wilt the spinach, and plate it.
- Top with 2 lamb chops per serving, and a slice of that delicious herb and bleu cheese compound butter.
If you skipped the first course, round out the meal with a crusty baguette with olive oil steeped with garlic, crushed red pepper, and anchovy paste. We love this flavorful lamb dish with a full-bodied red wine such as primitivo/zinfandel. Fantastico!
I hope you will consider the benefits of inviting your loved one(s) to "sit at your table." Whether celebrating Valentine's Day with your love, or cooking for friends and family, nothing beats gathering around the table for a wonderful home-cooked meal, a bottle of good wine, and of course, the conversation of those you hold dear. I would so love to hear your thoughts!
- 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
- 1 teaspoon garlic, minced
- 1 teaspoon fresh thyme leaves
- 2 teaspoons fresh rosemary, stripped from stems, finely chopped
- a few grinds pepper
- 1 teaspoon sea salt
- 4 lamb chops*
- 2 tablespoons butter, softened*
- 2 tablespoons bleu cheese crumbles
- 1 teaspoon fresh herbs, finely chopped*
- a sprinkle of sea salt and few grinds pepper
Spinach Roman Style
- 2 tablespoons currants
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 3 cloves garlic, minced
- 1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper
- 1 tablespoon pignolas, pine nuts, toasted
- 5 ounces baby spinach*
- sea salt/pepper
- *See Notes
- To a zip bag, add olive oil, garlic, herbs, salt and pepper. Combine well. Add lamb chops to marinate. You will want to give it at least 30 minutes or several hours in the marinade.
- Using a fork, mash the butter, bleu cheese, and herbs together until well combined. Shape* and chill until you are ready to cook the lamb.
Spinach Roman Style
- Cover currants with boiling water to plump them. They need about 5-10 minutes.
- In a very large saute pan over medium heat, add olive oil and garlic. Stir until fragrant and golden. Add the crushed red pepper and sherry vinegar. Reduce heat to low. Add drained currants and toasted pignolas.
- Get the griddle pan very hot over high heat. Place lamb chops on the hot pan.
- Add baby spinach to the saute pan. Increase heat to medium, and saute the spinach just until wilted. Season with sea salt and a few grinds pepper.
- Turn the lamb chops. You only need about 2 minutes on a side for medium rare.
- Plate the wilted spinach. Top with 2 lamb chops and a slice of the bleu cheese herb compound butter.
- *See Notes
I have a number of herbs in my garden, and selected rosemary and thyme - both work well with lamb. You can choose your favorites. Oregano would be great as well!
You really do need this much spinach for 2 people, as it cooks down so much!
I had the meat counter cut 4 ribs from a rack of lamb. I chose to french the partial rack and then cut into 4 chops, which makes a lovely presentation. You can also use a loin chop (cheaper cut), but it won't be as tender.
Drop the butter mixture onto a sheet of plastic wrap, chill it a little, and then roll it into a cylinder. Chill until ready to plate. Then cut a little round for each lamb chop. If you make a bigger batch, you can freeze some for another meal! See this post for a video that illustrates the process clearly.
The spinach needs a bit of acidity. I prefer sherry vinegar for its smoothness, but sometimes I just squeeze some lemon juice over top!
When I plated this dish for new photos, we included a simple parsley and bleu cheese polenta.
Macronutrients (approximation from MyFitnessPal.com): 455 calories; 21 g protein; 13 g carbohydrates; 37 g fat.
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 455Total Fat: 37gCarbohydrates: 13gProtein: 21g