It always happens, anytime I have a meal that involves a lamb dish, I am reminded of Spring. I know it sounds rather twisted and a tad bit warped to mention visions of lambs frolicking through the meadow. The scene growing even further distorted when envisioning putting fork and knife to little bow peeps little sheep.
Growing up, I was a HUGE fan of Chuck Jones cartoons. For those of you who aren’t in the know, Mr. Jones was the animator and produce of such infamous Looney-Tunes cartoons as Bugs Bunny, The Road Runner, as well as Rocky and Bullwinkle. Chuck had a flare for making light of that classic battle of good versus evil. He never let the face of evil get so skewered that it became ominous.
In that way, I see Chuck Jones as somewhat of a zen master, always letting us know that no matter how dark or down things seem to get in life, there is will always be light and laughter on the other side. What does this all have to do with lamb you say? My favorite Chuck Jones cartoon of all time is Droopy Dog. With is slow as molasses drawl and always calm demeanor, Droopy never seems to let the best of a bad situation get him down.
And finally, we stray back to sheep, or lamb, more precisely. My plus one, Leslie, purchased for me a deluxe DVD anthology of all the classic Chuck Jones cartoons. There buried amongst all that youthful nostalgia is the Droopy Dog episodes to top them all. A little ditty entitled “Sheep Wrecked” which featuring Droopy’s arch nemesis, The Wolf. He never has a name, but oh, what a character! In “Sheep Wrecked”, the wolf in relentless in his pursuit of sheep did profess his love for that barnyard favorite, rattling off a slew of his favorite methods of lamb cookery.
I found myself playing the wolf today as I scoured the local market for something sheepishly delicious. With a little luck, I turned up a few choice lamb chops and whipped up the tasty little recipe I am sharing with you today. “Man, Alive…” was that lamb ever good! Thank goodness I didn’t have to work as hard as old mister wolf.
- 1 cup unsweetened apple juice
- 1/4 cup sugar
- 2 Bosc Pears, peeled, cored, cut into 1/4–inch–thick slices
- 3 fresh thyme sprigs plus 1/2 teaspoon chopped fresh thyme
- Eight 1 1/4–inch–thick lamb loin chops
- 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
- 1 tablespoon aged balsamic vinegar
- 1 tablespoon butter
- 1/2 teaspoon chopped fresh oregano
- 1/2 teaspoon chopped fresh rosemary
Combine apple juice and sugar in small saucepan. Bring to boil over medium–high heat, stirring until sugar dissolves. Add pear slices and thyme sprigs. Reduce heat to medium–low, cover, and simmer until pear is tender, about 20 minutes. Strain, reserving pear and juices separately. Discard thyme sprigs.
Sprinkle lamb with salt and pepper. Heat 1 tablespoon oil in heavy large skillet over medium–high heat. Add lamb; cook to desired doneness, about 3 1/2 minutes per side for loin chops for medium–rare. Transfer lamb to platter; cover to keep warm. Pour off drippings from skillet; place skillet over medium heat. Add reserved pear juices; boil until reduced to 1/4 cup, scraping up any browned bits, about 2 minutes. Remove skillet from heat; stir in vinegar, butter, oregano, rosemary, and 1/2 teaspoon chopped thyme. Season pan sauce to taste with salt and pepper.
Top lamb with poached pear. Spoon pan sauce over and serve.