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Lamb Chops
Agneau de Tintin

4 lamb loin chops, at least 1 3/4 inch thick
1 tablespoon cream cheese
1 tablespoon goat cheese
garlic
mint
bread crumbs, about 3/4 cup
finely chopped walnuts, about 2 tablespoons
spices

Pulverize a clove of garlic and a few mint leaves (preferably fresh)
together in a mortar. Mash in half the cream cheese and mix very
well. Stir this mixture into the remaining cream and goat cheeses,
and again mix well. This step is best done ahead of time, to meld
the flavors. The mixture can be stored in the frid ge overnight,
but return it to near room temperature before proceeding.

Prepare bread crumbs by blending them with your choice of dried
spices. (I use oregano, pepper, and a pinch of coriander. Do not
add salt, however, as goat cheese provides plenty of salt.)

Using a sharp knife, cut and scrape as much fat as possible from
the chops, then wipe them with a paper towel.

Hold each chop between thumb and forefinger by pinching at the
edges of the bone, and cover the meat completely with the cheese
mixture. Note: Do NOT coat the flat bone surface at the base of
the chop, as it will rest on that surface while cooking.

Sprinkle 1/4 of the walnuts evenly over the coated surface of each
chop, and, with the fingertips of your free hand, gently press the
walnuts into the cheese -- press just enough so they adhere. Then
coat with the crumb/spice mixture, again pressing gently with the
fingers, until the surface is completely covered and no more crumbs
will stick. Place the chop on a plate, with the flat, un-coated
bone surface down. The chop will point upward, like a little tree.

If desired, the chops may be covered (with an inverted bowl, not
touching the meat surface) and put in the refrigerator for several
hours -- very convenient if cooking for guests, as the actual
cooking process is quick and simple.

Preheat oven to 425F.

Wipe the bottom of a heavy pan suitable for both stove top and oven
cooking with a bit of oil; heat it almost to the smoking point ---
quite warm. Place the chops, un-coated bone end down, into the
heated pan, and maintain the heat; do NOT cover. You will not see
much cooking -- you are heating, not frying -- but the preheating
of the bone as well as of the pan is critical to the success of
the recipe. After 3 minutes transfer pan and contents to the
preheated oven. Roast, uncovered, for approximately 20 minutes.
Remove from oven and quickly transfer to a warmed serving plate.
Serve immediately.

Note:

Chops are so small and the cooking so hot and quick that using a
meat thermometer is impractical. You will want to make this recipe
once simply to determine the degree of doneness your oven produces.
For me, 3 minutes on the stove and 20 minutes in the oven produces
an excellent medium rare with a nicely browned surface. To suit
your personal preference, the size chops you buy, and how accurate
your oven is, you may end up adjusting the stovetop time to as
short as 2 or as long as 4 minutes (to change the degree of doneness),
and/or changing the oven time to as short as 15 or as long as 25
minutes (to alter the degree of browning).

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