Fifth Floor, the celebrated restaurant in San Francisco's Hotel Palomar, is making good use of its new chef, David Bazirgan. Each dish on his menu marries the restaurant's smart approach to Mediterranean flavors with the Bay Area's freshest ingredients. These lamb chops are a prime example. Rubbed with olive oil and fragrant, lavender-loaded herbs de Provence (an homage to the fields where French lambs graze), the elegant chops are quickly seared and served over nutty farro and roasted spring asparagus. A sprinkle of coarse salt adds a saline tribute to the Mediterranean and puts the final touch on an easy addition to any Easter celebration.
Lamb Chops with Asparagus and Farro
Recipe adapted from David Bazirgan, Fifth Floor, San Francisco
Yield: 8 servings
Cook Time: 1 1/2 hours plus marinating overnight
2 tablespoons herbs de Provence
¼ cup plus 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, divided
Salt and freshly ground pepper
16 lamb rib chops (from two 1½ -pound racks of lamb), frenched
2 cups farro, soaked in cold water overnight
4 cups chicken stock or low-sodium broth
1 bay leaf
4 sprigs thyme
32 asparagus spears, trimmed
Half a lemon
Coarse salt, for serving
1. In a small bowl, whisk together the herbs de Provence, ¼ cup olive oil and a pinch of salt. Arrange the lamb chops in a single layer on a large baking sheet and drizzle with the olive oil mixture, rubbing with your hands to coat each chop thoroughly. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate overnight.
2. In a medium saucepan, combine the farro, chicken stock, bay leaf, thyme and salt to taste. Cover and simmer over medium heat until the farro is tender and the liquid has mostly evaporated, about 65 minutes.
3. Preheat the oven to 400°. Toss the asparagus with the 3 tablespoons of olive oil and salt and pepper. Roast until crisp-tender, about 10 to 15 minutes. Remove from the oven and keep warm.
4. In a large skillet over medium heat, heat 2 tablespoons olive oil. Sear the lamb chops over medium heat until cooked to desired doneness, about 3 to 4 minutes per side for medium rare.
5. Arrange a mound of farro in the center of eight plates. Lay four spears of asparagus over the farro on each plate. Arrange two chops around the asparagus. Squeeze the lemon over the lamb, sprinkle with coarse salt and serve immediately.