Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Ooh La La: Romantic Dinner for Two!

Tonight a nice romantic dinner for two is on the menu: Dijon Lamb Chops with Shallot Sauce and Green Beans and Friends. Ooh la la! Now, I am a big fan of lamb chops but they are not something I make on a regular basis. There’s always the leg of lamb on Easter Sunday but lamb chops, not so much. Also, as it turns out, they are quite expensive. At the butcher I had the option of the New Zealand lamb, which apparently is a bit gamy, or the domestic lamb which were bigger, cleaner-tasting chops but, coincidentally, slightly more expensive. I decided to go with the domestic (against my husband's newly instituted fiscal policy) and asked them to cut them with the double rib as indicated in the recipe. I must say they were some nice-looking chops! Though a non-veggie fan, the Green Beans and Friends sounded surprisingly good with bacon, shallots and mushrooms. Those are definitely some of MY best friends. Instead of regular green beans I bought haricorts verts, I think they make a nicer presentation than your typical green beans and have a nicer flavor...a little more ooh la la since they are French too!
Once home, I got to prepping the two dishes. I started with the shallot sauce for the lamb chops. Since it has to reduce, I got that going first. Then, the green beans. You need to blanch them for five minutes, then plunge them into ice water to stop the cooking process – yes, just like they do on Food Network! It was easy enough and I felt very chef-y in the process. Then I sautéed the bacon in the skillet and chopped it up to top the beans when they were done. I then proceeded with the shallots and mushrooms and finally added the green beans back to the skillet to warm though. Since the lamb chops only were supposed to take 10 minutes I figured they could hang out for a little bit...you know, since they're all friends.
The prep for the lamb chops was easy enough and reminiscent of the pork chops I made for my sister’s birthday with the Dijon mustard and bread crumbs. I think the key to this recipe, however, is to stick with 1 1/2 inch lamb chops or thinner. Mine were closer to 2 inches. Although I thought that was close enough, as it turns out, 5 minutes per side under the broiler was not near enough time to cook them. The coating started to burn and they were a very underdone rare in the center after the indicated cook time – YIKES! I decided at this point to just set the broiler to low and leave them in awhile longer keeping my fingers crossed that the inside would cook before the outside completely charred. Meanwhile the shallot sauce was approaching the perfect level of reduction on the stove and smelling absolutely fabulous.
The sauce calls for white wine otherwise I might have chosen a Pinot Noir to go with this meal, which, frankly, would still be a great choice. For a dry white wine I selected a Louis Jadot Pouilly-Fuissé - a French Chardonnay from the Burgundy region. This wine has a nice minerality to it with fruit overtones and a touch of oak; unlike the heavy oak influence you find in some American Chardonnays. Maison Louis Jadot is know for producing great wines from the Burgundy Region. They were also participants in last year’s Boca Bacchanal and poured some fabulous wines we had the opportunity to sample.

The Dishes:
Dijon Lamb Chops with Shallot Sauce (pg. 156)
Green Beans and Friends (pg. 216)

The Drink:
2007 Louis Jadot Pouilly-Fuissé Burgundy, France

Fortunately, the lamb chops cooked to a beautiful medium rare before all the breading charred on them – whew! The great thing about the shallot sauce is, besides being absolutely delicious, it can also hide any, um, imperfections when spooned atop the chops. The addition of the butter to the sauce when taken off the heat is also truly decadent. The lamb chops also, thankfully, turned out to be amazing – the Dijon mustard baked with the breadcrumbs had such a fabulous, rich, mouth-watering flavor. Even the beans which had to hang out a little longer than expected were truly delightful. With its mineral and apple notes and touch of oak the Pouilly Fuissé went well with the meal as well. I would definitely pair these two dishes together again in the future.
So, after a little nail-biting, dinner for two turned out to be a great success! Although, much to my dismay, the pictures of this beautiful dish mysteriously disappeared from my camera (much like the two remaining lamb chops I had hoped to save for the next day!) Fortunately, that was the only thing that turned out to be disappointing. Definitely well worth the effort for that special someone – enjoy!

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