Skilled-Seared Lamb Chops Rubbed with Mastiha

  • 2 bay leaves

  • 2 tsp. grated lemon zest

  • 3 garlic cloves, smashed

  • ½ - 1 tsp. Mastiha powder, to taste

  • 2 tsp. dried rosemary

  • 1 tsp. freshly ground black pepper

  • 3 Tbsp. extra virgin olive oil

  • Four 1-inch- (2,5-cm) thick lamb chops, trimmed

  • 2 medium leeks, cleaned, white parts only, chopped

  • 2 garlic cloves, finely chopped

  • 2 shallots, finely chopped

  • 1 Tbsp. flour

  • 1/3 cup Mastiha liqueur

  • 1 cup chicken or vegetable broth

  • Dash of cayenne pepper

  • ¼ cup heavy cream

  • 2 tsp. strained fresh lemon juice

  1. Using a mortar and pestle, pound the bay leaves, lemon zest, garlic, Mastiha powder, rosemary, pepper and 1 tablespoon olive oil together into a paste. Wash and pat dry the lamb. Rub each of the lamb chops with the mixture. Tightly wrap each chop separately in plastic wrap. Let stand at room temperature for 1 hour. Remove the plastic wrap.

  2. Heat 1 tablespoon olive oil in a heavy nonstick skillet over high heat. Sear the lamb chops, in several batches if necessary, for 3-4 minutes per side for medium-rare, 5-6 minutes per side for medium, and about 8 minutes per side for well-done. Remove and set aside, covered, to keep warm.

  3. Using the same skillet, reduce the heat to medium, heat the remaining tablespoon olive oil, add the leeks, shallots and garlic, and sauté for 6-7 minutes, until soft. Sprinkle with the flour. Cook, stirring, for another 2 minutes. Pull away from heat and pour in the liqueur. Place back on heat. When the alcohol steams up, pour in the chicken broth. Simmer until slightly thickened, 6-7 minutes. Add the cayenne and stir. Pour in the heavy cream and stir well. Stir in the lemon juice. Serve the chops with the sauce spooned evenly around them.