The French chef Alexis Soyer originally created this now classic dish for the Reform Club of London's Pall Mall area—and this breaded, fried lamb cutlet is still on the menu more than 100 years after the chef's death. In its bare essentials this dish is breaded lamb with a tangy vinegar-based sauce. There are many variations, some involving truffles and various wines. But this one, my favorite, uses ham in both the breading and the sauce.
Although the recipe title calls for cutlets, what seems to be the most popular choice is what is called a lamb rib chop over here in the States. If you don't have a great butcher near you, but can get your hands on a rack of lamb, carefully cut the rack between the bones to break it down into chops. Then carefully clean the bones by removing all the fat and meat clinging to the upper part of the bone, while keeping the meaty portion of the chop attached.
When making the sauce, the first reduction of the port and vinegar is essential to getting the tangy and sweet flavors that this dish needs. Take the time to reduce the port and vinegar until it is almost gone, but make sure to not scorch the sugars in the port, or the sauce could get a burnt and bitter flavor. Serve these cutlets along with mashed potatoes and peas, passing the sauce alongside.
- Yield:serves 4
- Active time: 1 hour
- Total time:1 hour
- For The Sauce:
- 1 tablespoon butter
- 1 medium onion, finely chopped (about 1 cup)
- 2 ounces finely chopped ham (about 1/4 cup)
- 1 medium carrot, finely chopped (about 1/2 cup)
- 2 tablespoons port
- 1/4 cup red wine vinegar
- 2 cups chicken stock
- 2 bay leaves
- 1 small bunch thyme
- 1 teaspoon cornstarch
- Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
- For the Lamb:
- 2 pounds bone-in lamb rib chops (about 8 chops)
- 4 ounces ham, very finely chopped (About 1/3 cup)
- 1/4 cup finely chopped fresh parsley
- 3/4 cup breadcrumbs
- 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
- 2 eggs, beaten
- About 1/2 cup vegetable oil
For the Sauce: Melt butter in a medium skillet over medium high heat, add onion, ham, and carrot, and cook until onions are soft and ham is just beginning to crisp, about 4 minutes. Add port and vinegar and cook until almost totally reduced, about 2 minutes, then add stock, bay leaves and thyme, bring to a simmer and reduce by half, about 20 minutes.
Mix cornstarch with 2 tablespoons water and add to simmering sauce; once sauce has thickened, season to taste with salt and pepper.
For the Lamb: Place rib chops on a cutting board, and using a mallet, gently flatten each chop until it is 1/2 inch thick. Do your best to ensure that the meat stays attached to the bone.
Combine ham, parsley and breadcrumbs on a plate and mix with your fingers until well combined. On separate plates, place flour and beaten eggs. Season the flour with salt and pepper.
Bread each chop by coating it first in flour, then with egg, and finally with breadcrumb mixture. Repeat with remaining chops and reserve on a separate plate.
Pour 1/4 inch of vegetable oil in a large skillet, and heat over medium high heat until shimmering. Add breaded lamb, making sure to not crowd the pan, and cook until breading is brown, about 4 minutes per side. Serve with mashed potatoes and peas, passing the sauce along side.