For this dish, rib chops cut from a rack of lamb are best because of the length of the bone. Look for a bright red color a few shades lighter than beef and a big “eye” of meat–about 2 ½ inches wide.
- For the Chops:
- 12 Frenched rib lamb chops (about 3 pounds)
- 1 tablespoon fresh rosemary leaves
- 2 teaspoons extra virgin olive oil
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- For the Sauce:
- 1 orange
- 1 meaty lamb bones
- 3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
- 1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
- 1/2 cup chopped onion
- 1/4 cup sliced carrot
- 1/4 cup sliced celery
- 1 tablespoon chopped fresh sage
- 1 tablespoon chopped fresh rosemary
- 1 tablespoon chopped fresh mint
- 3 cups Chicken Stock or canned, low-sodium chicken broth (Chicken Stock Recipe)
- Freshly ground black pepper
- 1/2 cup dry white wine
- 1 cup water
- To serve:
- Fresh mint sprigs
- Braised Spring Legumes
- Roasted Potato Wedges
Rub the chops with rosemary, oil, salt, and pepper and let them stand at room temperature for up to 2 hours or refrigerate, covered, for up to one day. Make the sauce. Preheat oven to 425 degrees F. Remove the zest—the orange part of the peel without the underlying white pith—from the orange with a vegetable peeler. Squeeze the juice from the orange. Reserve the zest and juice separately. Trim the lamb scraps of all fat and combine them with the lamb bones in a roasting pan. Pour 1 tablespoon of the olive oil over the trimmings and bones and toss to coat. Roast for 30 minutes. Sprinkle the flour over the bones and roast until the bones are well browned, about another 15 minutes. Meanwhile, in a large nonreactive saucepan, heat the remaining 2 tablespoons oil over medium heat.
Add the onions and cook, stirring occasionally until softened, about 5 minutes. Add the carrot, celery, sage, rosemary, mint and orange zest. Season lightly with salt and pepper and cook, stirring occasionally, until lightly browned, about 15 minutes. If the vegetables begin to stick, add a small amount of the stock and stir well. Transfer the brown bones and meat scraps to the saucepan. Pour off all fat from the roasting pan. While the roasting pan is still hot, add the water, wine and orange juice and scrape the bottom of the pan to release all coagulated drippings. Pour the liquid into the saucepan, bring to a boil over high heat. Lower the heat to simmering and cooking, skimming foam and fat frequently from the surface, until the liquid is reduced to about 1 ½ cups, about 1 hour and 15 minutes. Discard the bones and strain the sauce through a fine sieve, pressing down hard on the solids to squeeze as much liquid as possible from them. Return the sauce to the saucepan and simmer over low heat until reduced to the consistency of gravy. Heat a heavy griddle or large cast-iron pan over high heat. Add as many chops as will fit without touching. Cook the chops, turning them once, until well browned outside and rosy pink in the center, about 3 minutes. (For more well done chops, add 1 to 2 minutes to the cooking time.) Repeat with the remaining chops, if necessary. Spoon the sauce onto plates and arrange the chops over the sauce with the bones crossing.
Arrange the scaffata and potatoes next to the lamb and decorate with mint sprigs. Note: Ask the butcher to French the chops, or do it yourself. Cut the meat and fat away from the bone starting at the point where the “eye” of meat, meets the bone. Scrape the bone clean with the back side of a knife. There should be a 1 ½ to 3 inches bone protruding. Save all the trimmings from the chops to use in the sauce.