QUICK PAN-GRILLED LAMB CHOPS (ITALIAN)
Who needs the 60 Minute Gourmet? Here's the dinner we enjoyed tonight, a great match for a good Cabernet Sauvignon, and it only took a half-hour to do.
Main course: Coat four lamb rib chops with freshly ground black pepper and let them come up to room temperature. Paint the bottom of a cast-iron skillet with good olive oil, and warm it up with four or five smashed garlic cloves and four sprigs of fresh rosemary. When the garlic starts to brown and become highly aromatic, turn the heat up high and throw in the chops. Sear them on both sides in the garlic-rosemary-scented oil, then continue cooking, turning occasionally, until they're medium-rare (about seven minutes for standard- issue chops about 3/4-inch thick). Remove the chops to a warm serving platter. Discard the garlic and rosemary and pour off the oil. Deglaze the skillet with 1/3 cup leftover white wine, reducing until it's thick, and toss the chops back in, turning them once or twice. Serve.
Vegetable: Steam fresh asparagus spears in a steamer basket over boiling water for seven or eight minutes, until done but crisp. Melt 1 tablespoon butter in a small skillet with a garlic clove until it's almost brown, then whisk in 1 tablespoon lemon juice and freshly grated nutmeg, salt and pepper to taste. Toss the cooked asparagus in this quick sauce.
Starch: We popped "brown-and-serve" type petits pains from a local bakery into the toaster oven until hot and crisp; any quality white bread will do.
Wine: Silverado 1991 Napa Valley Stags Leap District Cabernet Sauvignon. Total time: 30 minutes.