30 Minutes or Less, Easter, Intermediate, Lamb, Main Courses, Spring and Summer

Mint Julep Sauce for Lamb Chops

Fresh mint leaves, bourbon, sugar and red wine vinegar are gently simmered together for a light and fresh mint julep sauce for lamb chops.

overhead shot of six lamb chops in a cast iron skillet

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Next time you want to prepare a special meal at home, consider venturing outside the comfortable zone of steak and consider lamb. Lamb chops are meaty like a steak, but so elegant and pretty easy to prepare.

Pairing lamb with mint is a centuries old tradition, but I couldn’t find a definitive answer as to why. Some theories speculate it was to hide the flavor of the mutton, which refers to meat harvested from an old sheep. Another guess is that lamb and mint are both common herbs used in Middle Eastern cooking and the tradition derived from there.

Regardless, I thought this mint sauce for lamb chops complemented the flavor of the meat nicely. You know me, I had to think of a way to put a Southern spin on it. Instead of plain old mint sauce, I used ingredients commonly found in the grand dame of Southern cocktails – the traditional mint julep. Mint julep sauce for lamb chops was the perfect balance of salty and sweet, fresh and velvety.

What part of the lamb do chops come from?

lamb butcher guide showing the different cuts of meat

There are a few different kinds of chops, each comes from a different part of the animal. A rack of lamb comes from the ribs. You’ve probably seen pictures of a crown roast with the little paper “chefs hats” on the tips of each rib? The chops have been Frenched, meaning a few inches of meat has been removed from the bone. If you took the roast apart and cut between each rib, you would have a cutlet. Some people refer to these as lollipops because you can hold the cutlet by the rib and eat it as you would a piece of fried chicken. This type of chop is what is shown in the photos included in this post. You may have to shop at a specialty store to find Frenched lamb chops. I found mine at Whole Foods.

Loin chops are more common. I can usually find these with no problem at my local grocery store. They come from directly behind the ribs. They are sometimes referred to as T-bone chops because to the “T” shaped bone in the center.

Sirloin chops are cut further back from the loin. Shoulder chops come from – you might have guessed — the shoulder area. Any of the four cuts I have mentioned would pair well with mint julep sauce. Just keep in mind the cooking times may vary from what I recommend in the recipe below.

What does lamb taste like?

uncooked lamb chops in a skillet surrounded by recipes ingredients

Some people think lamb has a gamey flavor. I have never thought this to be true. I compare it to the difference in flavor between a steak that came from a grass fed cow and a corn feed cow. It’s different, but not unpleasant. The older the lamb, the more distinct the flavor. Young lamb will have a pink hue, lighter flavor and similar in texture to pork. Chops from an older lamb are red with a more distinct flavor and same texture as a steak.

How to Make Mint Julep Sauce for Lamb Chops

overhead shot of mint julep sauce in a food processor

Place ¾ cup chopped mint in the bowl of a blender or food processor. Add 1 ½ tablespoons of bourbon, 3 tablespoons sugar, and 2 tablespoons of red wine vinegar. Process until the mint is finely chopped and everything is evenly mixed.

Pour the mixture into a small saucepan. Bring to a boil over medium heat. Reduce the heat and simmer until the sugar is dissolved and the alcohol in the bourbon is evaporated, no more than a minute. Remove the pan from the heat and set aside.

finished mint julep sauce in a glass bowl

How to prepare lamb chops

Start by seasoning both side of the chops with salt and pepper. Heat 1-2 tablespoons of cooking oil in a large skillet over medium-high. I like using cast iron skillets for searing or browning meat because it heats quickly and retains its temperature more evenly.

Once the oil is hot, place the chops in the skillet. Depending on how large your chops are or how many you are preparing, you may have to do this in batches. You don’t want to overcrowd the pan. You want to give each chop enough room so the surface touches the bottom of the skillet and gets a nice brown sear.

six lamb chops searing in a cast iron skillet

For thin cutlets like in the photos, I only needed to sear the chops for one minute and thirty seconds on each side. Thicker chops may require a longer cook time, up to three minutes per side. Lamb chops should be cooked until they reach an internal temperature of 145 degrees F for medium rare, 160 degrees F for medium and 170 degrees F for well done.

To serve, place a few chops on a plate. Drizzle the mint sauce over the top. Sprinkle with additional chopped fresh mint on the side.

close up shot of six lamb chops in a cast iron skillet

 

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close up shot of six lamb chops in a cast iron skillet
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Mint Julep Sauce for Lamb Chops

Fresh mint leaves, bourbon, sugar and red wine vinegar are gently simmered together for a light and fresh mint julep sauce for lamb chops.
Course Entree
Cuisine American
Total Time 3 minutes
Servings 6
Calories 165kcal
Author Lisa B.

Ingredients

For the mint julep sauce:

  • ¾ cup chopped mint
  • 1 ½ tablespoons bourbon
  • 2 tablespoons granulated sugar
  • 2 tablespoons red wine vinegar

For the lamb chops:

  • 6 4 ounce lamb chops
  • 1 tablespoon unsalted butter
  • 1 tablespoon cooking oil
  • Additional chopped fresh mint for garnish

Instructions

For the mint julep sauce:

  • Place all the mint julep sauce ingredients in the bowl of a blender or food processor. Process until the mint is finely chopped and everything is evenly mixed.
  • Pour the mixture into a small saucepan. Bring to a boil over medium heat. Reduce the heat and simmer until the sugar is dissolved and the alcohol in the bourbon is evaporated, no more than a minute. 
  • Remove the pan from the heat and set aside. Sauce will thicken as it cools.

For the lamb chops:

  • Season both side of the chops with salt and pepper.
  • Heat 1-2 tablespoons of cooking oil in a large skillet over medium-high.
  • Once the oil is hot, place the chops in the skillet. You may have to do this in batches, don’t overcrowd the pan.
  • Sear the chops for one minute and thirty seconds on each side. Thicker chops may require a longer cook time, up to three minutes per side. Lamb chops should be cooked until they reach an internal temperature of 145 degrees F for medium rare, 160 degrees F for medium and 170 degrees F for well done.
  • To serve, place a few chops on a plate. Drizzle the mint sauce over the top. Sprinkle with additional chopped fresh mint on the side.

Nutrition

Serving: 1chop | Calories: 165kcal | Protein: 15g | Fat: 11g | Saturated Fat: 5.8g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 0.7g | Monounsaturated Fat: 4.6g | Trans Fat: 0.8g | Cholesterol: 49mg | Sodium: 43mg | Potassium: 158mg | Vitamin C: 0.4mg | Calcium: 5mg | Iron: 1.2mg

 

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