Lamb Chops with Ras el Hanout Butter

Ras el Hanout is a spice blend used in North Africa, but especially in Morocco. The name in Arabic means "head of the shop" which refers to the best spices a seller has to offer. Ras el Hanout has infinite variations. This dish borrows the idea and uses a few of the many seasonings cooks and shops use for the blend. Here it is mixed into softened butter and used as a topping for spring lamb chops. It may also be used on pork, chicken, salmon, lobster, shrimp, or on any couscous, rice, grain, or potato dish. And if you like butter on your popcorn, this one is especially savory.
The butter keeps in the refrigerator for about a week. Or you may freeze any extra by wrapping tightly with plastic then place in a zip bag.

Serves 4

For the Ras el Hanout Butter

1 stick (8 tablespoons - 1/2 cup) unsalted butter, softened
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 tablespoons chopped fresh mint
2 tablespoon chopped fresh parsley
1 tablespoon ground ginger
1 teaspoon ground cardamom
1/2 teaspoon sea salt, such as Himalayan Pink Salt, Fine Grain
1/2 teaspoon ground allspice
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon ground coriander
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper of choice
Good pinch of ground cloves
Good pinch of cayenne chile pepper

For the Lamb and to Finish the Dish

Olive oil for the skillet
12 rib lamb chops, trimmed
Sea Salt such as Himalayan Pink Salt, Fine Grain
Mint springs for garnish

To make the ras el hanout butter, place all ingredients in a small bowl and mix well with a fork. Scrape sides of bowl well with a rubber spatula to ensure all butter is mixed in. Cover and set aside to allow the flavors to blend.

Over high heat, heat some olive oil in a large skillet or in two skillets so the lamb chops are not crowded or touching each other. If crowded in the pan, they will steam and not sear well. Sear lamb chops quickly on both sides. Lower the heat to medium-high and continue cooking until the chops are rare to medium-rare, 1-2 minutes more. Remove them to plates or a platter, season with a pinch of salt, spoon a dollop of the ras el hanout butter on each. The heat from the chops will melt the butter and create a nice sauce for the chops. Top with fresh mint and serve with green beans or carrots or other vegetable and a nice grain.

Recipe copyright Deirdre Davis 2016

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