This is the time of year when I throw myself into brighter and lighter fare. Most of the stews and soups I’ve stashed in the freezer during the chilly months have been eaten, so I’m on the prowl for easy-to-make weeknight dishes that sing spring.

These Butter-Basted Lamb Chops from recipe developer Alexis deBoschnek’s first cookbook, “To the Last Bite,” are just right any time you’re in the mood for a celebratory spring meal. If lamb is your traditional Easter centerpiece, consider this as an option, especially if time is tight – it comes together in about 40 minutes – or you’re feeding a smaller crowd.

I didn’t grow up eating lamb and had some less than stellar experiences with it a child, but once I tried lamb rib chops, especially ones with a nice fat cap, I was sold.

Yes, you can do a rack of lamb with the bone well-trimmed, but once the chops are sliced apart, the tender, fatty chops are ideal for quick stovetop cooking or grilling. They are sometimes called lollipop chops because you can pick them up by their “handle” to eat, as well.

You can make this dish with bone-in lamb loin chops, which are larger and thicker, but you’ll want to increase the cooking time.

In her cookbook, deBoschnek, who once worked as a senior test kitchen manager for BuzzFeed’s Tasty, features accessible recipes that deliver on their promise of low-effort and big flavor. This is a great example: She recommends fresh sage and thyme – but you could use any herbs you prefer – to flavor the chops, which also get tossed with garlic and mustard, giving the already-fatty meat even more oomph.

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If you’re short on time, marinate the chops for just 10 minutes on the counter while you cook your favorite spring vegetable or make a green salad to go on the side. We pan-fried asparagus to go with our chops.

Or marinate them for up to 2 hours in the refrigerator, if desired: “Any longer and you run the risk of the acid in the marinade breaking down the proteins in the meat, resulting in a gray, mushy chop,” deBoschnek writes.

The small chops are then pan-fried and basted with just a tablespoon of butter. I thought I’d want more butter, but because of the rendered fat from the chops, it was plenty.

The chops and spring vegetables come together to deliver a dish that strikes just the right balance of rich flavor and ease.

The meat is basted with one tablespoon of butter and the rendered fat from the chops. Photo by Scott Suchman for The Washington Post

Butter-Basted Lamb Chops

40 minutes

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4 servings

Fresh herbs – use the ones suggested here or your favorites – garlic, mustard and creamy butter impart big flavor to lamb chops, writes Alexis deBoschnek in her cookbook, “To the Last Bite.” If you’re short on time, marinate the chops for just 10 minutes on the counter while you pan-fry asparagus or make a green salad to go on the side. You also may marinate chops for up to 2 hours in the refrigerator, if desired. “Any longer and you run the risk of the acid in the marinade breaking down the proteins in the meat, resulting in a gray, mushy chop,” deBoschnek says. If you prefer lamb on the rare side, reduce the cooking time. We added asparagus for a springtime supper.

Storage Notes: Refrigerate for up to 3 days.

NOTE: You can make this dish with 1 1/2 pounds of bone-in lamb loin chops, which are larger and thicker, but you’ll want to increase the cooking time.

INGREDIENTS

1/4 cup finely chopped fresh sage (about 1/2 ounce)

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1/4 cup fresh thyme leaves (about 1/4 ounce), plus more for serving

4 garlic cloves, minced or grated

5 tablespoons olive oil, divided

1 tablespoon Dijon mustard

1 teaspoon fine salt, plus more as needed

1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, plus more as needed

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1 1/2 pounds lamb rib chops (about 8 chops; see NOTE)

1 bunch asparagus (about 1 pound total), woody ends trimmed and cut in half

1/4 cup chicken stock or water

1 tablespoon unsalted butter

DIRECTIONS

In a large bowl, stir together the sage, thyme, garlic, 3 tablespoons of the olive oil, the Dijon mustard, salt and pepper. Add the chops and, using your hands, evenly coat them with the herb mixture. Cover the bowl and let marinate for at least 10 minutes on the counter, or cover and refrigerate for no more than 2 hours. (If refrigerating, let the chops rest at room temperature for at least 10 minutes before cooking.)

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While the chops are marinating, in a large skillet with a lid over high heat, heat 1 tablespoon of the olive oil until shimmering. Add the asparagus and cook, stirring frequently, until they start to brown and blister, about 5 minutes. Pour in the stock or water, reduce the heat to low, cover and steam for 1 minute. Remove the skillet from the heat, but keep covered.

Set two plates next to the stove.

In a large skillet over high heat, heat the remaining 1 tablespoon of olive oil until shimmering. Working in batches so as not to crowd the pan, add half of the lamb chops and cook, without moving them, until golden brown on one side, about 3 minutes, depending on how rare you like lamb. For medium, you want an instant-read thermometer to register 130 degrees. Flip the chops, add 1/2 tablespoon of butter to the skillet, and continue cooking until golden brown on the other side, an additional 2 to 3 minutes, adjusting the heat as needed. As the butter melts, spoon it over the lamb chops.

Transfer the cooked chops to one of the plates and cover with the other plate. Repeat with the remaining chops and butter. When finished, spoon any remaining pan juices over the chops.

Chops may be of different thickness, so check them toward the end of cooking time, and remove them as they reach the desired level of doneness. The butter will brown, but if the butter, garlic or herbs burn, carefully wipe out the pan and add fresh oil and butter before cooking the second batch.

Serve the chops and asparagus warm or at room temperature, sprinkled with more fresh thyme, if desired.

Nutrition information per serving (2 chops and a scant cup of asparagus) | Calories: 773; Total Fat: 66 g; Saturated Fat: 24 g; Cholesterol: 158 mg; Sodium: 800 mg; Carbohydrates: g; Dietary Fiber: 4 g; Sugar: 2 g; Protein: 9 36 g

This analysis is an estimate based on available ingredients and this preparation. It should not substitute for a dietitian’s or nutritionist’s advice.

Adapted from “To the Last Bite” by Alexis deBoschnek (Simon & Schuster, 2022).


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