Adapted from Essentials of Classic Italian Cooking by Marcella Hazan
For 6 servings
This recipe makes the most succulent lamb chops you will ever eat. The butcher at Lobel's actually asked me for the recipe the third time I had him trim the chops for me. You need to use single ribs trimmed the way they would be for a rack of lamb, which means the corner bone and backbone have been removed, leaving just the rib, and the rib bone has been "Frenched," which means the fat has been removed from the bone. Then the eye of each chop should be flattened. At Lobel's the butcher uses a cleaver held sideways instead of a meat pounder. I assume you could do this yourself if you bought a rack of lamb and sliced it into single rib chops, Frenched them, and flattened them, but I have never done this myself.
To be perfect, instead of grating the parmigiano-regianno cheese myself, I like to use cheese I have bought and had grated at DiPalo's. It's more powdery when they do it than when I use the Microplane to grate it myself, which makes lovely little shreds - what I normally want, but not here. I probably should get my own grater in Little Italy, but I have never gotten around to it. Aunt Rita had one that she (sigh) sold for 50 cents at a garage sale. What was she thinking?
I like to serve these with side dishes that are good cold or at room temperature so you can plate the chops as soon as they're done, and tuck in. Mushrooms with garlic, olive oil, and parsley are good; so are fried red peppers; and, of course, a tart green salad. If you began the meal with a 2-ounce serving of pasta per person as a starter (right now I'm thinking a sauce with tomatoes and anchovies would be good, but that's up to you), you don't need another starch.
I made these for Herb one night, and he told me he would have wanted Lee to cook them once a week. I can't say I eat them that often, but they are definitely one of my favorite recipes.
12 single rib lamb chops, partly boned and flattened as described above
½ grated parmigiano-reggiano cheese, spread on a plate
2 eggs, beaten lightly put into a deep dish through a fine sieve
1 cup fine, dry, unflavored bread crumbs, spread on a plate
Turn the chops on both sides in the grated cheese, pressing so the cheese sticks to the meat. Shake off any excess cheese. Dip the chops into the beaten egg, letting excess egg flow back into the dish. Turn the chops in the bread crumbs, coating both sides, and shake off the excess. (So you can see that this is essentially a bound breading, using cheese in place of flour.)
You can prepare the chops up to this point as much as 3 hours in advance if you refrigerate them; just remember to return the meat to room temperature before cooking it.
Pour enough oil into a skillet to come ¼ inch up the sides, and turn on the heat to medium. When the oil is very hot, put as many chops into the pan as will fit without crowding. As soon as one side forms a nice, golden crust, turn each chop and as soon as the second side has formed a crust, transfer to a warm platter, and sprinkle each side lightly with salt. They should be thin enough that they will be cooked at this point; if not, you have to cook a little longer; but you will get the hang of this after you have done it onc time. The chops are so tiny to begin with, it's easy to get them thin; it's not like trying to smash a fat chicken breast into a thin cutlet. When all the chops have been cooked this way, serve immediately.