Spring celebrations wouldn’t be the same without lamb. While leg of lamb and other lamb roasts may be customary, lamb chops also can fit the bill.
Lamb chops are the star of the show in this recipe for Les côtes d’agneau grillées avec aïoli (Broiled lamb chops with garlic mayonnaise) from ‘The Food of France’ by Sarah Woodward. These chops are best when cooked on the grill, but also can be broiled indoors.
Les côtes d’agneau grillées avec aïoli
8 lamb chops
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
Few sprigs of rosemary, lavender and thyme
6 fat garlic cloves, peeled
Yolks of 3 large fresh free-range eggs
Extra virgin olive oil
Juice of 1⁄2 lemon
Classically the aïoli is made in a pestle and mortar, but a food processor will do the job admirably. What is essential is that all the ingredients are at room temperature before you start — cold egg yolks will usually make the sauce curdle. Either crush or whizz the garlic with plenty of salt until you have a paste. Now add the egg yolks and pound or purée again. When you have a smooth mixture, start adding the oil, literally drop by drop at the beginning, either whisking in or giving short blasts on the processor. As the mixture starts to thicken, you can begin to add the oil in a steady stream. Exact quantities will depend on the garlic, the eggs and the temperature, but a generous 1 cup of olive oil would be a good estimate. The aim is to end up with a stiff emulsion, which you serve alongside the broiled lamb chops. Finish the aïoli with a few drops of lemon juice.
To make the chops, season the chops well in advance, making sure that there is plenty of salt on the fat, and bring them to room temperature before barbecuing. It is also vital that the coals are only glowing or the fat will burn — so the barbecue needs to be lit well in advance. Alternatively, you can just broil the chops but they will lack some of that special flavor. Just before cooking, throw on the herbs so that the chops cook in their aroma. The chops only will need to grill 2 to 3 minutes per side, depending on chop thickness. Lamb is done when the internal temperature reaches 145°F.
Let stand a few minutes for juicy lamb, and serve with the aïoli on the side.