Fried Lamb Rib-Chops: Don’t Feel Bad, Just Enjoy

Fried Lamb Chops with Reduced Balsamic and Rosemary Sauce and Grilled Polenta w/ Broccoli di Rape

I feel like we go on and on ad nauseam about our trip to Italy last summer, and I suspect that if it hasn’t happened already, our faithful readers will begin to tire of our constant references to those halcyon days of pastoral bliss, romantic nuptials, and devastatingly good food. So, before your goodwill towards us is exhausted, I want to wring out the last of it with this post on the remarkable dish that is deep-fried lamb rib chops

Perhaps ironically (and this may extend your patience toward us), the only meal, or in this case, part of a meal, that I ate during that trip that was not first-class was the secundi course of the meal in Bologna that included the frankly phenomenal ragu bolognese my wife wrote about recently, namely the deep-fried lamb rib chops. Not that it was bad or even close to bad, it was actually pretty good, but they were slightly overcooked and therefore dry, something I am almost proud to say I could discern even during the intense examination of the final dregs of our third bottle of Barolo.

Crispy exteriors combined with unctious, moist interiors are the holy-grail of almost every fried, grilled or roasted meat dish, where the crispy outer layer insulates the flesh and keeps it moist. However, there is a very fine line between success and failure in these endeavors. Too far one way and you’ve got a crispy outside, but a dry and tough inside. Too far the other, and you’ve got a limp crust and a bloody interior. Lamb rib chops are the beautiful, tender pieces that correspond to the rib-eye (the rib attached to the tenderloin) on a steer, and are frequently served as a rack, medium-rare, with the bones nicely trimmed (Frenched) and often with a garlic & parsley breadcrumb crust that is rarely as crunchy as you want it to be, and I wanted to experiment whether deep-frying could provide the crunch as well as the medium-rareness I had tragically missed out on that night in Bologna.

Indeed, the stakes were further raised by the horrifically high price of lamb in the US. It took this transplanted Englishman a long while to get used to the scarcity of lamb in this country where beef is king (despite there being huge swathes of land that are eminently suitable for sheep-grazing), and the cost has kept us on a steady diet of braised shoulder chops, unable to branch out into the leg or the rack until a fortuitous wander into our local Pathmark store coincided with a virtual giveaway of perfectly Frenched rib chops. Seizing this opportunity with a vigor that may have shocked my wife, I loaded up our shopping cart (yes, the trolley) with rib chops and it was this bounty, as much as anything, that convinced me to try deep-frying them. After all, if it didn’t work and they turned out like hockey pucks, we could still broil or grill ourselves some dinner with the rest.

Fried Lamb Chops with Reduced Balsamic and Rosemary Sauce and Grilled Polenta w/ Broccoli di Rape

A little bit of luck, and I prevailed in this experiment and I’m delighted to say that these rib chops were as good as any I’ve eaten anywhere. Assuming you also have the good fortune of finding lamb rib chops at a reasonable price, you should not only grab an armful, but you should try this recipe right away. It would be the perfect thing to impress dinner guests with, and since the chops are fried and therefore quite rich, two per person will suffice, making you appear generous and feel thrifty at the same time. Joy.

Fried Lamb Rib-Chops with Grilled Polenta, Broccoli di Rape and Balsamic Reduction

So, before continuing, I should say that I shallow fried my chops instead of deep frying them as I was nervous about overcooking them. Shallow frying allows you to do the “poke-test” on them (poke the meat with your finger, if it feels soft, it’s rare or very rare, if it is firm, it’s well-done, you want it somewhere between. The trick is knowing when is enough.)

Fried Lamb Chops with Reduced Balsamic and Rosemary Sauce and Grilled Polenta w/ Broccoli di Rape

Ingredients (serves 2)

  • 4-6 lamb rib chops, frenched
  • 1 cup plain flour
  • 1 cup panko, or very coarse fresh breadcrumbs
  • 1 cup soda water/sparkling mineral water
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 2-3 cups vegetable oil
  • 1/2 cup balsamic vinegar
  • 1 clove garlic, smashed but with skin-on
  • 1 sprig rosemary


  • Combine salt, water and flour in a mixing bowl into a batter of medium thickness.
  • Put oil in a 10inch (20cm) diameter frying pan. Should be about 1/2inch (1cm) deep.
  • Heat oil to around 350F (175C)
  • dip chops in batter, then dredge in panko (breadcrumbs) and lay them gently in oil. Do not overcrowd pan. We did ours two at a time.
  • Fry chops for about three minutes per side, or until slightly darker than golden brown on the outside.
  • Use poke test to determine done-ness.
  • Place in a warming oven (200F/95C) and allow to rest for five to ten minutes.
  • Add balsamic vinegar, garlic and rosemary to your smallest saucepan.
  • Over medium heat allow it to come to a boil. Reduce heat to about medium-low and allow to reduce by at least half.
  • Keep your eye on it at this stage because it can very quickly go from a perfect consistency to a bitter-tasting molasses.
  • Remove garlic and rosemary and serve sparingly over your lamb chops.

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31 thoughts on “Fried Lamb Rib-Chops: Don’t Feel Bad, Just Enjoy

  1. My husband just walked by as I was reading this & moaned with delight! This looks scrumptious! Lamb is our favorite as is Italy – you can wax all you want about Italy.

    By request, I’m making the Ragu Amy posted again this Friday for our carbo-loading meal. 🙂

    Ciao e grazie,

  2. I feel like such a layblogger compared to you. But not in a threatened, player-hating way; nay, you inspire me. And you are the wind beneath my (buffalo) wings.

  3. I’ve never heard of frying lamb before, but this sounds like it would produce brilliant results. That looks awesome–if only rack of lamb was ever reasonably priced by me. :-/

  4. thanks, as always, for your kind comments.
    marc – i see what you mean about the tonkatsu similarity. I’ve frequently been amazed that a pork tonkatsu can still be moist inside as pork chops dry out like a bitch cause you have to cook them through.
    heather – glad to be an inspiration. btw, did you ever know that you’re my hero…?
    claudia – that may the first time anyone has incorporated the words “money shot” into a haiku. genius.

  5. Whoa! That photo kind of came up unexpedtedly. I was NOT planning to see a photo that beautiful, a chop that tasty looking, come up when I scrolled. Holy cow! It’s beautiful. I want one now! I am not sure I ever had a breaded lamb chop before (and I LOVE lamb chops). It will be fun to explore a new way of preparing them.

    BTW, I’ll try not to hate you for that Italian trip, even if it is my fondest wish to go there. I try not to hate my husband for changing his mind about taking me there a few years ago. He claims it was too expensive, but it was way cheaper then than it is now and the dollar, while weak, was at least a bit stronger. But I’m not bitter, really I’m not. No I. Am. Not. Bitter.

  6. Oh wow! This has never even crossed my mind before but now I see it, the recipe makes perfect sense! How delicious. I love that close up shot too. Divine

  7. Wow! That is some seriously amazing stuff! YUM! I honestly have never tried or thought of having lamb this way…you learn something new everyday in this land of food blogs!

    Please continue with stories of Italy! It justs whets my appetite to get there soon! Roberto and I are planning a trip for next year to go and visit family!

  8. I love lamb chops. We usually make kebab from them, or just fry it plain, or steam it under the rice pilaff. I like your recipe! I should experiment with it. Great photos!

  9. You guys might have just helped me overcome my fear of frying. Those lamb chops look so delectable and I have to make this now.

    Love this post and thank you for sharing. Love the part about being generous and thrifty at the same. Genius.

    I am pretty sure that I’ll love you even more once I click on that ragu link.

  10. Love the idea about deep frying the chops. Comming from a black southern background, i am used to fried chickrn and pork chops. In the past 4 years, I have converted to Islam where pork is forbidden. Frying these lamb chops will fill the void of fried chops for me. A bit of help for you, muslum (or middle eastern ) stores sell lamb like american stores sell beef. We buy 2 lambs a month, i have to french and seperate the chops myself but it is worth it. For a whole lamb it is only about $85. They will cut it just about how you want it if you ask. let me know if this helps.

  11. thanks for that remarkably insightful comment, Kevin. You’re probably right, this recipe has been done before, but so has your weak attempt at a snarky blog comment. And, if I might be so bold, it’s been done considerably better than you managed, too.

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