I don't have too many memories of cooking with my grandmother, since we lived about 2,000 miles away most of my childhood. But I do know she made a killer homemade gnocchi. And in return, I subjected her to my version of peach pie when I was 12 years old- A can of peaches, the juice cooked & thickened with corn starch, dumped into a store-bought crust, and baked. But she was very supportive of my endeavors.
Another great thing about Italian Grandmothers, they don't pay too much attention to pesky things like whether you are related to them or not. So while I did not get too much time in the kitchen with my own grandmother, I knew a few through various family friends and church events.
At one such church event, I met a little Italian grandmother that made this heavenly dish of baked lamb chops. Delicate, juicy, and layered with more onions, tomatoes, and garlic than you gan shake a fist at. And she was nice enough to take pity on my 14 year old culinary self, and wrote down the recipe for me.
15 years later, I have this recipe committed to memory, and it is my 'go to' recipe anytime I want to wow someone. Or if I want to spoil my dad when he's out to visit. Or pretty much any time I feel like I need a little grandmotherly love.
Cast of Characters:
This is pretty straightforward in the ingredient department. Other than the chops, everything else can be found in most any kitchen - sliced onion, chopped garlic, sliced tomatoes, grated Romano (or parmigiana, both work well) cheese, olive oil, salt (table works as well as sea), pepper, and Italian seasoning (or your own mix of dried basil/oregano/etc).
For the chops themselves, I've learned to try not to be too picky. Most grocery stores carry lamb chops in a limited selection, and I'll grab whatever looks good. These petite loin chops would be my first choice since they are lower in fat and gristle, and the thickness lends a nice juiciness to the dish. If loin chops aren't available, I'd recommend some shoulder round chops or rib chops. I wouldn't recommend the shoulder chops because they are pretty riddled in bone and gristle, and pretty hard to cut up and eat when layered under all the tomato-ey goodness.
So... to assemble this, we do it in three repetitive layers, plus a layer of chops. Depending on the size of your chop, I usually allot for 2-3 per person. So we want to pick a baking dish large enough to fit them all. Snug fitting is fine, they will shrink a bit as they bake. First we start by drizzling the pan with about 1/4 cup of olive oil. Lamb can be a fatty meat, so less is more with the oil. I usually use my pampered chef pump spritzer for this.
Next, layer in 1/3 of the tomatoes. A nice even layer, allotting for at least one slice under each chop, or just evenly spread about.
Next, we add 1/3 of the sliced onions, and 1/3 the chopped garlic. The more the better as they definitely add a punch of flavor to the dish.
Finally, we add a liberal dash of the Romano cheese, salt, pepper and Italian seasoning.
On top of this, lay the chops.
Repeat the oil - through - seasoning layers.
Repeat them one last time. The more the better here, the less you can see of the chop, the better.
Now, take this multi layer wonder and put it in the oven at 350 deg f for 40 minutes. Set about making some risotto, and try not to gain 20 lbs simply smelling the chops as they meld with all the flavor.
After 40 minutes, we're not quite done. Take out the chops, and turn the oven up to 375 deg f. Now we want to drizzle the chops with some white wine. The Nice Italian grandmother wrote 1/4 a cup, but honestly, I just drizzle straight out of the bottle, whatever you have in the house. This week I happen to have cooking wine. We're more of a red wine drinking household, so I usually keep white cooking wine on hand. But whatever white you have on hand is fine. Heck, I've used Saki in a pinch, and it still tasted great.
After a healthy drizzle pop the chops back in the oven for 15 minutes.
NOW they are ready.
Serve with a spatula to get up as many of the 'extras' with each chop. The baking has made them all meld into a melt in your mouth nirvana of flavor.
Enjoy. And try not to eat the whole pan on your own. Maybe invite your own italian grandmother over, and make her proud.
Italian Baked Lamb Chops
|4 Lamb Chops|
|3 Tbs Olive Oil|
|3-4 Cloves Garlic, Chopped|
|1 md Onion, sliced|
|2 Tomatoes, sliced|
|3 Tsp Italian Seasoning Blend|
|3 Tsp Salt|
|3 Tsp fresh Ground Pepper|
|1/2 c Grated Romano Cheese|
|1/4 c White Wine|
- Preheat Oven to 350 deg F
- This recipe is done in three layers of ingredients, construct in the following order: Drizzle a glass baking dish with 1 Tbs Olive Oil, 1/3 of the Chopped Garlic, 1/3 of the Sliced Onion, 1/3 of the Sliced Tomatoes, 1/3 of the Italian Seasoning, Salt, Pepper, and Romano Cheese.
- Lay the chops flat on this first layer of ingredients, then repeat the Oil, Garlic, Onion, Tomatoes, Seasonings and Cheese twice for a total of three layers altogether.
- Bake at 350 deg for 40 minutes, then drizzle with 1/4 cup White Wine. Increase heat to 375 deg, and cook an additional 15 minutes.
- Serve with a spatula to get as many of the extra ingredients with the chop as possible, and enjoy.