Truth be told, we don’t eat much red meat. However, Lamb Steaks with Herbs and Caramelized Garlic make a great indulgence, especially with the Puglian wrinkle of using olive oil scented with rosemary, sage and thyme instead of a butter sauce.
The French approach to a simple pan sauce is to sear a chunk of protein in a heavy-bottomed sauté pan, then to deglaze the pan with a glug of wine or stock to dissolve the crispy bits, and finally, off the heat, to swirl a glob of butter into what remains, which creates a butter emulsion flavored with all those tasty pan juices. These days that’s a rare event Chez Adams-Rivard, if only because it’s impossible to make without imagining the calories buzzing up faster than kilowatts on the basement meter of a Christmas lighting fanatic.
In this recipe Jody caramelizes garlic and herbs in a generous half-cup of olive oil, then gets them out the pan while she sears the lamb. She sets the lamb aside. After deglazing with a bit of lemon juice, she returns the herbs and garlic to the pan and pours everything (well, NOT the bay leaves) over the meat. The scent of lemon, herbs and olive oil is a Proustian ticket to the sun-drenched Adriatic coast of your choice–and you’ll definitely want some bread to mop everything up.
We used American lamb steaks; each was around 6 ounces, but sometimes they’re even larger. As Jody suggests below, you can stretch the recipe by serving smaller portions to more people or by using New Zealand lamb steaks, which are about half the size. Enjoy. Ken
Lamb Steaks with Herbs and
- 4 sprigs each, thyme, sage, rosemary and 4 bay leaves
- 4 ½-inch thick slices lamb leg, 5 to 6 ounces each
- Coarse sea salt and fresh cracked black pepper
- ½ cup extra virgin olive oil–not super fancy
- 8 garlic cloves, smashed and peeled
- Zest and juice of 1 lemon
- 2 tablespoons water
Have a splash screen read. The oil will spit.
- Strip the leaves off the stems of the thyme, sage and rosemary.
- Pat the lamb dry with paper towels. Season the lamb generously with salt and pepper.
- Heat the oil in a large frying pan over medium-high heat. Just before it starts to smoke, add the garlic and cook 1 minute on each side or until golden brown. Add the herbs and cook 1 minute, tossing occasionally or until the leaves are crisp, but not burned. This will happen very quickly. Remove the herbs and garlic from the pan. Discard the bay leaves.
- Add the lamb and sear on each side 1½ to 2 minutes for medium rare, longer if you like it cooked more. Transfer to a plate. They need to rest 5 minutes before cutting because they were cooked on such a high heat.
- Turn off the heat. Add the zest and juice to the pan with 2 tablespoons water. The lemon juice will sizzle. Use a rubber spatula to deglaze the pan. Return the herbs (you threw away the bay leaves, right?) and garlic and toss. Pour over the lamb. Encourage your guests to eat the herbs.
Oops! A bay leaf sneaked aboard, under the piece of bread. (The other leaf is sage.)
“Where do you get your inspiration?” On rare occasions I can say something romantic like, “oh… that recipe came to me in a dream.” But mostly ideas come to me from the ingredients I find in a market sitting next to each other; from reading; and from travel.
In this case, I boldly stole it from the chef of the Pezze di Greco restaurant, Anticalama, in Puglia. I was invited back to the kitchen to see him flash fry tiny lamb chops in oil in which he had just fried a fistful of herbs. He artfully stacked the chops, secured them with a skewer and then poured the aromatic oil over the whole thing. They were fantastic. The only thing I added was the lemon.
As I poured the required amount of oil into the pan, Ken said, “That’s a lot of oil,” but I didn’t let him deter me. I plowed ahead with ½ cup and it was the perfect amount. Any less and the herbs wouldn’t have crisped. It’s 2 tablespoons per person if you are serving this recipe to 4 people and I know you eat that much olive oil with bread if it’s put in front of you. Anyway, olive oil is good for you.
PS. You could cut each lamb steak into 2 pieces and serve this amount of meat to 6 to 8 people with lots of vegetables and grains and everyone would be happy and satisfied. Alternatively, you could use New Zealand lamb steaks which are often half to a third of the size of their American counterparts.
Here’s a closer look. Click on anything: