This recipe takes its inspiration from two places. The first is my favorite Indian restaurant, Earthen Oven, which makes one of the best lamb dishes I have ever eaten, the Lamb Masaledar. Marinated in yogurt and spices and roasted, these lamb chops are divine. I wanted to keep the yogurt marinade, but tone down the spices and up the citrus to keep it light for springtime. To finish the dish, a crust of toasted ground hazelnuts adds some crunch and texture. This is a move that I have adapted from a Daniel Boulud braising recipe, wherein he finishes a braised lamb shank with a hazlenut/butter/herb crust. I went for just hazelnuts, since the dish already has the richness of the yogurt and the spices underneath. I served these chops last night with a simple hash of shaved brussel sprouts, onions, garlic, pancetta, lemon juice and fresh mint. —lechef
Marinate the lamb. Combine yogurt, mint, lemon juice, cumin, turmeric, chili powder, and garlic in a zip lock bag or baking dish big enough to hold the lamb (I always marinate in zip lock bags when possible...it makes it so much easier to work the marinade into the meat, and you can flip it halfway through to evenly distribute the marinade). Add the lamb and allow to marinate overnight.
Prepare your hazelnuts. If you can find "pre-skinned" hazelnuts you can probably skip this step, but the ones that I had still had the skins on them. To remove the skins, toast in a dry skillet, moving the nuts around frequently, for about 5 minutes, until you see dark spots developing and the skins start to crack. Remove from heat, and allow to cool. The skins should be easy to remove just by rubbing them. Place the nuts into a spice grinder or food processor, and chop finely. This can be done in advance to save time on cooking day.
The next day, when you are ready to cook, heat your oven to 450. Heat the oil in a heavy skillet over medium high heat. If you have a skillet large enough to hold all of the chops at once that is also oven safe, all the better. If not, you will need to have a baking dish ready to accept the chops.
Remove the lamb from the marinade, and shake a little to remove excess. You can save the marinade a cook some chicken in it later if you want...it's delicious! Season both sides of the lamb with salt and pepper.
Sprinkle a hazelnut crust on both sides of the chop (get some on the bone handle as well...) and pan sear each side of the chop for about 1 minute, to get a nice crust going. As I said, if your skillet is large enough to fit all of your chops then you can do this all at once and put the whole skillet into the oven. If not, transfer the seared chops to the baking dish.
Cook the chops until they register an internal temperature of 130-135 degrees for rare, flipping once. They will cook a little more as you plate, so unless you like your lamb on the more well-done side (for shame!) pull them out. This will depend on your cooking method (a hot skillet going into the oven will cook them faster than a cold baking dish) but it will be about 10 minutes or so.
Meanwhile, in another skillet, make the brussel sprout hash. Heat the oil over medium heat and add the pancetta. Cook for 2-3 minutes to brown, and add the garlic. Cook for another 2 minutes. Add the onions, cook for 2-3 minutes, and then add the brussel sprouts and cook for about 3-4 minutes. If you want your sprouts on the crunchier side, turn the heat down earlier.
Season with salt and pepper, and add a good squeeze of lemon juice at the end. Sprinkle the fresh mint and about 1/2 T of lemon zest on just before serving, and toss to incorporate. Plate 2-3 lamb chops over the bed of brussel sprouts, and dinner is served!