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Ed Smith's lamb chops with cacio e pepe white beans

Lamb chops meet their match in a belly-warming plate of cheesy white beans, pepped up with greens, for a comforting, calming dinner

Ed Smith Crave | lamb chops with cacio e pepe beans

Serves 2

Preparation time 5 mins

Cooking time 20 mins

Whether you're lacking inspiration after 18 months of home cooking; the type of cook that doesn't often consult recipes (we're jealous of your laid-back approach and creativity); or just after a recipe book that hits a little bit different, Ed Smith's new book Crave may well be the one that gets you back into cooking with recipes.

With dishes organised by flavour and mood, rather than style or season, it builds on the author and writer's penchant for immediately likeable dishes that inflame the imagination and make the reader want to cook them immediately. The recipes' influences are eclectic – from Italy to Thailand and beyond – but all are created with an eye on elegance, straightforwardness and flavour.

With so many of the recipes in Crave revolving around flavours to particular moods, it's probably unsurprising they wouldn't all be dishes to cook when you’re over the moon. But, while "so many of these cheesy and creamy recipes are ones that respond well to glum moods or glum weather," Smith says, "this one seems to call to me whatever the weather, and whether I'm down or I'm bouncing. It's just a base urge for the slight tang and umami notes of the pecorino or parmesan in a buttery sauce."

As Smith describes, the recipe isn’t complex, doesn't require many fresh ingredients, and can form more of a template than a recipe to be followed to the letter, and provides "something of a rapid, store-cupboard relief, including pre-cooked beans from a can to suit the speed. Those beans go with lamb in any form (whether roast leg, slow-cooked shoulder, breast, rump or rack) but chops are appropriately quick to cook. Serve with something like purple sprouting or Tenderstem broccoli, curly kale, or a side salad of bitter or peppery leaves."

Ingredients

  • 4 lamb chops or 2 thick Barnsley chops (about 400–500g in total)
  • 4 cloves garlic, unpeeled
  • 2 sprigs rosemary
  • 1 x 400g can of haricotbeans, drained
  • 200ml water
  • 60g butter, cubed
  • 2 tsp ground black pepper
  • 60g Pecorino or Parmesan, finely grated
  • Blanched greens or bitter, peppery-leafed salad, to serve

Method

  1. Collate all the ingredients including the greens or salad, as you should cook both chops and beans pretty much simultaneously and neither takes long.
  2. Stand the chops on their fatty edges in a (still cold) frying pan or skillet, large enough that it’ll still hold the chops once sat flat. Place on a low–medium heat and gradually warm up so as to cook the fat until it’s golden and soft – much of which will seep (‘render’) out. Resist cooking too quickly or at too high a temperature; it’s a gentle process that should take 5 minutes or more.
  3. While this is happening, bash the garlic cloves to flatten them then add to the pan (keeping the skin on to prevent burning), along with the sprigs of rosemary. Let those cook away for a few minutes to release their flavours into the ever-increasing pool of lamb fat.
  4. Then, once the fatty edges are golden and soft, push the chops onto their flatter sides, turn up the heat and cook for about 90 seconds on each side, basting regularly with the oil, until the chops are browned and buzzing with hot oils and juices.
  5. Also while the lamb chops are standing, add the drained beans to a wide frying pan or saucepan and set over a low–medium heat. Pour in the water and let them warm gently – so the liquid begins to simmer but not boil, and therefore the beans remain intact.
  6. Scatter the cubes of butter over and around the beans and allow them to melt, before sprinkling the black pepper over the top. Shake the pan vigorously so the butter and cooking liquid become one, then add the cheese, again waiting for it to melt before shaking and stirring to emulsify everything.
  7. Puddle the beans and their cheesy sauce in a bowl or onto a plate with a rim, add the lamb and greens, and serve.
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