Make this recipe for pan seared lamb chops with green harissa as a special dish for entertaining for the holidays!
Disclosure: This post was sponsored by Mountain States Rosen lamb but the thoughts and opinions expressed are my own. Thanks for supporting the brands that make this blog possible!
We’re gettin’ fancy on the blog today with these pan seared lamb chops with green harissa!
Tell me, do you have a special holiday meal? Maybe a Christmas ham or a Hanukkah brisket?
Our special Christmas meal used to be a big German feast, per the request of my grandpa. Our dining room table would be covered with huge platters of sausages, tart sauerkraut, bacon flecked potato salad, loaves of that really good, dark pumpernickel bread, and more kinds of pickles than you ever thought possible. It was tasty, but our fingers would get so swollen from the salt that it was hard to open presents the next day! When my grandpa passed away a few years ago, we decided it was time to come up with a new tradition.
My dad was pulling hard for lamb, but my stepmom was team lobster. If you’ve met my stepmom, then you know she won that battle.
Still, I think my dad was on to something because lamb is really the perfect dish to serve for a special holiday meal. It’s tender and has rich flavor with a taste that goes well with heavy seasoning and spices, like the spicy and herbacous green harissa in this recipe. Although all cuts of lamb except ground are classified as “lean” or “extra-lean” by the USDA, there’s still enough fat to keep it moist and pack lots of flavor. Other meats have more marbling, while in lamb, most of the fat is around the rim, so it stays juicy without being too fatty. Don’t be afraid of the fat – 40% of the fat in lamb is cholesterol lowering monounsaturated fat. And since it’s mostly grassfed, lamb has five times more omega 3 fats than an equal serving of beef.
Because I think it’s important to consider the environmental impact of our diet, I also appreciate lamb for it’s sustainability. This lamb was raised in the US by multi-generational family ranchers rather than being transported from other 10,000 miles away from Australia and New Zealand. Also, sheep live (and eat!) in natural habitats, and their grazing helps prevent forest fires, control invasive weeds, decrease soil erosion and promote tree growth.
Although I’ve eaten lamb quite a few times, I had never cooked it before making this dish. I was a little intimidated, but I found these shoulder chops to be extremely easy to prepare. Seared in a hot cast iron skillet on high heat, they developed a nice crust and medium-rare center. There’s also enough fat on the chops to keep them from drying out.
I made this green harissa because I love the combination of lamb and Middle Eastern flavors that I fell I love with during a trip to Turkey a few years back. The green color also reminds me of the mint chutney commonly served with lamb. Instead of the traditional red harissa, which requires a few different types of dried chilies, I made this green one with easy to find ingredients. Feel free to make extra and freeze! Any leftovers would be great with my Indian shakshuka or baked green falafel.
If you’d like to impress your guests this holiday season with lamb, head to Harris Teeter, to purchase Shepherd’s Pride Lamb, the only source-verified American lamb never given any antibiotics or growth hormones. Here’s a link to where you can find a retailer near you. Also, try your hand at winning the Comfort and Joy sweepstakes where you can win delicious Mountain States lamb and an eco-smart wool blanket from Pendleton!
How would you enjoy lamb for the holidays?
- Green Harissa:
- 3 stemmed, seeded and chopped jalapenos (leave a few seeds in if you like it spicier)
- ½ cup parsley leaves, lightly packed
- ½ cup cilantro leaves, lightly packed
- 2 large scallions, chopped
- 1 small clove garlic, minced
- 2 teaspoons cumin
- 1 teaspoon coriander seeds
- ½ teaspoon fennel seeds
- Juice of 1 lemon
- ⅓ cup extra virgin olive oil
- 4 garlic cloves, pressed or minced
- 1 teaspoon cumin
- 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil, plus more for the pan
- 4 lamb shoulder chops, ~ 5-6 ounces each
- First, marinate the lamb. Mix the garlic, cumin, 1 tablespoon olive oil together in a small bowl. Rub all over the lamb. Season the lamb generously with salt and freshly cracked black pepper. Set aside to marinate at least 15 minutes or refrigerate if marinating longer.
- Next, make the harissa. Blend jalapenos, herbs, scallion, garlic, spices and lemon juice together in a food processor until finely chopped. Stream in olive oil with motor running until creamy, scraping down the sides as needed. Season with salt to taste and set aside until ready to use.
- Heat olive oil in a cast iron skillet on medium-high heat. When hot, add the lamb chops and sear for 2-3 minutes per side until cooked to your preferred doneness.
- Remove lamb from heat and let sit 5 minutes. Serve dolloped with green harissa with more sauce on the side for serving.
Tasty side dishes for your lamb feast: