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Lamb chops, who knew?

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I've been in a cooking rut for oh, say, four years. Part of that is my fault and is directly linked to "I am too tired to try very hard" after work and part of it is linked to "I am tired of making things my family will not eat or even try." But even the laziest cooks eventually need a little variety in life, so I started putting my mind to things that might be new and different enough to appease my needs but same old same old enough for my 4-year-old and my red-meat-loving husband.

Enter: the lamb chop. My recent trip to Sloane Farms yielded not only a beautiful leg of lamb but also a pack of lamb chops A perfect opportunity of newness, wrapped in white butcher paper. Excited, I embarked on a project.

So excited I was, I decided to challenge myself Top Chef-style and give myself only 30 minutes to put together a somewhat-inspired meal with the thawed lamb chops and whatever else I had just hanging out in my kitchen. (That is code for "I forgot to plan for this meal and am too tired to go to the store and I want it and I want it now.")

Out of this, though, came a beautiful and local meal fit for company, if I'd had enough and my husband and I hadn't fought over the last lovely lamb chop in the pan.

I had some veggies that had been gifted to me via various gardening friends and some this or that just ready to go, and dang if I didn't produce something I was proud enough of in less than 30 minutes.

I began by pre-heating a cast-iron skillet that already had a little fat in it, but you could add olive oil if you needed to. I just salt and peppered the chops liberally with Kosher salt and cracked black pepper, and when the pan was hot, I tossed them in to sear on each side. Meanwhile, I heated the oven to 250 F.

I removed the chops and put them in the oven and used the "fond" (leftover bits and grease in the skillet) to make a little pan sauce. I added a pat of butter for richness, and finely minced the following: a red pepper, a hatch chili, a clove of garlic, and half a red onion. Then I added in a large tomato I'd seeded and diced, and sauteed everything for a few minutes until softened. Next, I "deglazed" the pan with white wine. That just means that I poured wine over the hot pan to release all the good brown bits left by the chops and continued to stir. I finished it with a couple of teaspoons of honey, and it was ready to go in minutes.

This all took about 10 minutes, just long enough for the (smallish) chops to finish in the oven. I pulled them out, spooned a bit of the sauce over the top and clapped my hands for it was so pretty.

For a side dish, I wanted something fun but fuss-free, so I just diced up a few red potatoes and put them in a pot to boil, skins on. When they were soft, I drained them and gently stirred in a pinch of salt, a half teaspoon of chipotle powder and a drizzle of olive oil. Perfecto!

A little salad on the side for green (I always have some in the fridge pre-made), and a delightful meal was plated in about 27 minutes.

Lamb chops are lovely because they're fast to cook and a nice alternative to steak for a meat-loving family. Also, when you've received them as a gift from someone you admire, they taste even better.

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