Gourmandistan

Easy lamb chops with onion and rosemary, a holiday cottage hero

Lamb chopsGourmandistan is back from its month in England and Scotland. (It was 28 days to be exact, as a somewhat-still-bitter-at-United Airlines Michelle will tell you.) While we were thrilled to swap our American domain for dramatic geography, history and much better social infrastructure, we once again had a beautiful house but were not that taken with our kitchen.

Alnmouth

Over the years we have been fortunate enough to enjoy month-long travel, we have found ourselves in many challenging cooking environments. There have been a few notable exceptions. The Freeths’ kitchen in La Bastide d’Armagnac was perhaps even better equipped than our own, and Ingrid Hudson’s Caunes-Minervois house was so beautiful one didn’t care whether the kitchen was good or bad. However, we once spent a month in a charming apartment in Alsace, which unfortunately was not equipped with an oven. (Michelle cried when she discovered that. We’ve asked about ovens ever since, which must make potential landlords scratch their heads.) While we know enough now to bring our own knives, we more often than not find many obstacles to cooking ambitious meals. With odd-sized pans, scratched skillets, missing gadgets and a general bent towards tourists who mostly are eating out, our holiday kitchens have given us a sense for simple recipes that don’t rely on fancy equipment or utensils.

Lamb chops

This year’s kitchen wasn’t the worst we’ve seen, but it did present some problems. (Why would a silverware drawer hold innumerable spoons and multiple knives but only four forks?) Michelle surpassed the rental kitchen’s limitations many times, producing a lovely steak and ale pie and several desserts along with this simple, delicious lamb recipe. When we first made it in our Alnmouth kitchen, we were a bit fearful of the long cooking time and high temperature. However, we have found that while the meat becomes totally brown throughout, it remains amazingly tender and juicy, with the creamy sauce and its mustardy bite making a lovely condiment. Best of all, besides the ingredients it requires only one pan, one pot and an oven. (We apologize to those renting our old flat in Eguisheim.)

OVEN-BAKED LAMB CHOPS WITH ONION AND ROSEMARY SAUCE

(adapted from Delia Online)

Meat:

  • 4 lamb loin chops
  • 1/2 onion, sliced sideways in crescent moon shapes
  • Salt and pepper

Sauce:

  • 1/2 onion, peeled and finely chopped
  • 2 tsp. fresh rosemary leaves
  • 1 generous TB butter
  • Salt
  • 1 large clove garlic, finely chopped
  • 1 generous TB flour
  • 1/2 c. stock (any type)
  • 1/2 c. milk
  • splash of cream
  • 1 tsp. whole grain mustard
  • Pepper

Put lamb chops in a shallow roasting pan, tucking onion slices under and around them. Season with salt and pepper and bring meat to room temperature.

Place a rack at the highest level in the oven and preheat to 400° F.

Place meat in oven and cook for about 45 minutes.

While meat is cooking, make sauce: Melt butter in a small saucepan, then add onions and some salt. Cook over over low heat for about 5 minutes. While onion is cooking, bruise rosemary leaves with a mortar and pestle, then chop finely and, along with the garlic, add to the onion in the saucepan. Continue to cook slowly, uncovered, for about 15 minutes more.

Add flour, stirring with a wooden spoon until smooth, then gradually add milk and stock, stirring well. Continue to cook, stirring, until thickened. Blend with an immersion blender (optional).

Season with salt and pepper to taste. Stir in a splash of cream and the mustard. Cover to keep warm.

Serve the chops with the sauce poured over.

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26 comments

  1. Kitchens in rental houses are terrible! Knives are always the worse – but then I’ve noticed many people I know in France haven’t got proper knives even for themselves. And when not at home, you start noticing how many things you never think of when at home become a matter of concern (only a micro-wave? no sieve? can I make pancake batter in that tiny breakfast bowl?…) From your Facebook pictures it sounds like you had a nice holiday nevertheless, and the chops sound and look lovely.

  2. Bent, blunt, broken knives, thin, dented saucepans – never stayed in one that doesn’t have an oven though! The lamb looks lovely, as does the sauce. One pot cooking at its tastiest.

    • We weren’t exaggerating. I burst into tears. And it was otherwise a lovely kitchen! Let’s just say that, 8 or 9 years on, I can hardly stand the sight of choucroute because we had traiteur carryout (thank god we did have a cooktop) more times than I care to remember…

      • I know exactly what you mean. We once hired a flat in a lovely location in the cathedral square of an English city, rented out by an expensive “heritage” organisation. It was furnished with what looked like granny’s cast-offs and the kitchen was so badly equipped we hardly ate there – which was unfortunate because the restaurants were dire too. I wouldn’t say it scarred me for life (first world problems, after all) but I am much more wary now. Our family flat in Spain is, I can smugly announce, BRILLIANTLY kitted out but I have to admit that’s partly (ok largely) self-interest. 🙂

  3. I usually go for garlic and rosemary, but those chops with mustard do sound good and the butcher has a special on them at the moment. At least the house looks nice from the outside 😉
    In case you don’t know, Delia made the cake for the Rolling Stones Let It Bleed album cover, before she was a famous food writer and TV presenter.

  4. I take the inadequacies of vacation kitchens as a challenge — like one of those Food Network kitchen competition shows: “Here’s what you’ve got to work with, let’s see what you can do!”

    • Oh no! Though, I must admit, there is always the temptation to just throw the nonstick skillets and knives in the dishwasher: “Not my house!”

      Indeed, other than the attempted theft of the Lord of Northumberland’s barometer, we were safe from the Reavers. 🙂

  5. Same here, I always travel with some must haves to holiday homes: knives, tea towels, pepper mill, oven gloves, spatula, sometimes even tart pans, baking dishes and a wooden chopping board after encountering the knife-blunting terrible glass boards in an otherwise charming Lake District house. Welcome back with some nice lamb chops. N

  6. Having stayed in a number of flats while on vacation, I’ve learned to ask a variety of questions before booking. Ask if there’s an oven? That’s a new one. I do not blame Michelle for being upset. Lamb and rosemary were created for each other. THe paring is classic and delicious.

    • Strange, huh? That one never occurred to me to ask! But, since then, we’ve done all sorts of crazy things like asking people to go and measure something, go take a photo of the kitchen from a different angle, etc. I’m quite sure they often think us insane.

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