Lamb chops, chump chops, choppy chops. My spring lamb rump (chump) chops are very simple, with light herby crumbs piled onto pan-seared chops. Or cutlets. What’s the difference?
Are chump chops lamb chops? And are lamb cutlets lamb chops too? What about lamb rack or loin chops?
Lamb chops are very confusing. Maybe it’s just me but with a pork chop you just know where you are: it’s the bit of the loin with bone on one side and a collar of fat on the other. You grill it, have it with apple sauce and feel really old-fashioned. But you know what you are getting when you buy or order it.
Lamb chops seem to be a different cut every time I look. There is the rack and this much I know: it’s the rib part of the animal. Cooked whole as a rack, it can be cut into individual cutlets – which some people also call chops.
Then there are loin chops. Sometimes they look like mini T-bone steaks but other times they are sold cut across the whole lamb loin. I call them ladybits chops because they are shaped like uterus with really big ovaries. Normal people and butchers call them Barnsley chops or saddle chops.
Chump chops, finally, are cut across the top of the lamb’s little legs, and so they have only a small round bone in the middle. Except sometimes they are boneless and still called chump, even though they plainly become rump chops then.
Isn’t it amazing how such a small animal can create so much uncertainty? That’s not even the end of trouble with sheep and lamb because they change their name too as they get older; from spring and summer lamb to hogget and mutton. And as much as traditionally we are supposed to have spring lamb for Easter, it’s not quite feasible in the UK unless Easter should fall in early May – or we agree to pay shockingly high price for shockingly small lambies.
Thus it’s usually late spring that I get a fix of new season lamb. Some say it’s bland, tastes like nothing or chicken, and only acquires proper flavour when a couple of months older – but I do love it. It needs gentle treatment, light and fresh seasoning, none of the heavy rosemary and cumin. I prefer to fry or grill it with nothing but a sprinkling of salt and pepper and add the herby topping piled on afterwards.
This is a combination of basil and garlic whizzed with breadcrumbs and a little sharp cheese. It doesn’t melt on the meat so you can add it after they come off the pan, but sitting under the herby crumbs gives a very nice flavour to the lamb chops. Chump chops. Rumb chops. Or should we just call them steaks once and for all?