After < 5 minutes of deliberation with Zoe, I made this for dinner in Brixton with Patrick who brought some Tempranillo to drink with the lamb and a fruity Kernel Brewery ‘Table Beer’ (3%) to amuse us before the start. More wine followed (Rioja).
Zoe made lovely wet polenta flavoured with lemon and parmesan and thyme as our carb (follow cooking instructions on packet, and then add a knob of butter, a few heaped tablespoons of grated parmesan, a sprig of thyme, a good squeeze of lemon juice and a hefty pinch of salt and remember – keep stirring or it’ll go lumpy!).
Small cubed or halved smallish skin-on potatoes roasted in olive oil and sea salt would also ‘go’ really well with this (and take around 25 minutes in a hot oven).
Once you’ve blitzed the Romesco sauce, which can be done in advance, all that’s left to do is to fry the chicory and the lamb chops and whip up some polenta or bung some potatoes in the oven. It is a low-stress dinner (I think)
8 lamb chops, seasoned with salt and pepper and rubbed in olive oil
4 heads of chicory (endives)
tablespoon of chopped parsley garnish (optional)
3 spring onions
2 Romero peppers (long, pointy red ones)
1 medium red chilli
1 teaspoon smoked paprika
3 heaped tablespoons ground almonds
3 tablespoons red wine vinegar
4 tablespoons olive oil
1 garlic clove, crushed with salt
To make the sauce:
Pre-heat the oven to hot, or heat up the grill to high.
Cook the Romero peppers, chilli and spring onions until soft and slightly charred on a baking sheet. Turn every few minutes if under the grill.
The skin of the Romero peppers will be broken and almost peeling away. The spring onions and the chilli take less time than the peppers to grill so add 5 minutes after.
When cooked, peel the peppers and remove the seeds. Then blitz with all of the other ingredients with a blender. If you want it to have less heat, take out the seeds from the red chilli.
Taste for seasoning and add a hefty pinch of salt. If you think it needs more acidity, add more vinegar.
This can be done in advance.
Slice the chicory to ½ centimeter (¼ inch) thick slices lengthways from the base. Do not cut off the base as you need it to hold the slices together. Season the chicory with salt and pepper. Melt a knob of butter and heat a tablespoon of olive oil in a heavy based frying pan.
When it’s hot, lay the chicory slices down in the pan so they cover it. When the slices are golden brown and slightly charred turn and cook the other side. You will have to fry the chicory in batches so keep a plate in the oven on a low temperature covered with foil to put the cooked slices in while you finish the rest. Squeeze over some lemon juice and a bit of extra salt and pepper just before serving.
When the chicory is cooked and resting in the warming oven. Heat 2 tablespoons of olive oil in a heavy based frying pan and when it’s hot, add the lamb chops. Cook for 4-6 minutes on each side depending on the thickness. You want them pink in the middle, but not still raw. When cooked, lay on a warm plate or pan and drizzle with lemon juice, the parsley and an extra pinch of salt.
How to serve:
Warm dining plates in the oven while the lamb chops are cooking lay all the dishes out on the table and spoon the Romesco sauce over the meat when it’s on the plate. If you’re serving this with wet polenta, make sure you serve up immediately before the polenta solidifies. Lots of red wine.