This really is a super simple recipe to make. Just put the tapenade ingredients into the food processor and – buzz, buzz, buzz – that’s done. Then season and pan-sear the lamb. Then plate and garnish. Voila!
- 10 dried mission figs
- 1 small navel orange
- 1 cup drained pitted brine-cured nicoise or kalamata olives
- 1 tablespoon red wine or balsamic vinegar
- 1/3 cup plus 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil, divided
- 1 3/4 teaspoons freshly ground pepper, divided, or more to taste
- 8 lamb rib chops, about 3/4-inch thick, or 8 lamb loin chops, about 1 1/4 inches thick
- 1 1/2 teaspoons coarse kosher salt
Stem and quarter the figs. In a small saucepan over medium-high heat, combine the figs and 1 cup water. Bring to a boil, reduce to a simmer, and cook until the figs are softened, about 15 minutes. Drain, reserving 2 tablespoons of the cooking liquid.
While the figs are cooking, cut 1/4 of the orange into 2 or 3 chunks (including the peel). Use a vegetable peeler to cut 4 thick pieces of the colored part of the peel from the remaining orange (save the remaining fruit for another use). Cut the peel crosswise into thin slices and set aside.
In the bowl of a food processor, combine the figs, reserved cooking liquid, orange chunks, olives, vinegar, 1/3 cup of the olive oil, and 1 teaspoon of the pepper and pulse to make a coarse puree, scraping down the bowl as necessary. (You can prepare the tapenade and orange peel slices up to 2 days in advance, storing them covered in the refrigerator. Return them to room temperature before serving.)
Sprinkle both sides of the lamb with the salt and remaining 3/4 teaspoon of pepper.
In a very large skillet over medium-high heat, warm the remaining 2 tablespoons of olive oil. (If you don’t have a skillet large enough to hold the lamb without crowding, use 1 large and 1 small or 2 medium skillets, dividing the olive oil between them.) Add the lamb and cook to desired doneness, about 2 1/2 minutes per side for rib chops and 3 1/2 minutes per side for loin chops for medium rare. Transfer to a platter or plates and let rest, loosely covered with foil, for 5 minutes.
Arrange a puddle of tapenade on serving plates, dividing it evenly. Top with the chops, garnish with the orange peel slices, and serve hot.