Lamb Chops Recipe Drizzled with Mint Saba

Lamb chop

These small lamb chops have always been one of my favorite foods. The bite or two of special succulent meat on each is a perfect size, and if you love the bones, they’re dainty enough to pick up and chew. Saba, a thick, syrupy grape reduction, or “must,” aged in wood barrels, has been described as the original balsamic vinegar. You can find modern versions in gourmet shops and online; or substitute other good-quality balsamic vinegar syrups or aged products called “condiment” balsamic. Here the sweet saba, laced with mint is the perfect delicate accompaniment to the lamb; if enhances the flavor without ever overwhelming it.

Serves 4


12 Lamb Rib chops, preferably New Zealand, each about 4 ounces and 1 inch thick
6 tablespoons olive oil
Sea Salt and freshly ground black pepper
6 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 large shallot, minced
½ cup saba (see recipe introduction) or excellent quality condiment or aged (preferably at least 12 years) balsamic vinegar
½ cup fresh mint


1. Bring the lamb chops to room temperature. Rub the chops on all sides with 4 tablespoons of olive oil, then season generously with salt and pepper.  

2. In a large skillet over medium-high heat, heat the remaining 2 tablespoons olive oil until smoking. Add the lamb chops and cook, turning once, until nicely browned on both sides and cooked to the desired doneness, about 3 minutes per side for rare, 4 minutes per side for medium-rare. Transfer to a platter and let rest.

3. Meanwhile, in a small saucepan, melt the butter over medium heat. Add the shallot and sauté until translucent, about 5 minutes. Add the saba and stir until well combined. Cook until the mixture is bubbly and fragrant, about 3 minutes. The sauce should be syrupy. Remove from the heat, cover to keep warm, and set aside.  

4. To serve, arrange 3 chops on each of the 4 plates. Stir the mint into the warm saba, drizzle over the chops, and serve immediately.  

Recipe from Small Gatherings by Jessica Strand (Egg & Dart Press, May 2013)

Image by Sheri Giblin

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