Saddle of Lamb with Ratatouille and Basil Oil

This image courtesy of Joseph DeLeo

After making saddle of lamb so many times at work, I have become a real fan of this tender cut, which cooks quickly and is full of rich flavor. It is easy to sear and slice thin and it makes a beautiful presentation. To make the full-flavored sauce, sauté some aromatic vegetables and herbs, add lamb stock, and reduce until creamy. Lamb stock is required in this dish--no substitutes--but it is simple to make and it freezes well. The juicy lamb has a seared golden-brown crust and is pink in the middle. It is sliced and arranged over thick crimson ratatouille, which has a fresh herb and tomato flavor. The basil oil framing the plate is an intense, beautiful green.

NotesSpoon some sauce on a plate; run your finger through it; if its track remains for a moment, it’s done; if it tastes weak, reduce it a bit more.

Order of preparation:

• Prepare the Ratatouille.

• Prepare the lamb sauce and keep warm.

• Prepare the basil oil.

• Sear and roast the lamb.

Make-ahead notes:

• The lamb sauce can be refrigerated up to 1 week or frozen; reheat over medium heat, skimming, if necessary.

• The ratatouille can be refrigerated up to 3 days; reheat in a 275°F. oven or over low heat, or microwave.

• The basil oil can be refrigerated up to 2 days.

Pan-roasting meats:

Chops and similar small cuts of pork, lamb, and veal are very easy to cook in a pan on top of the stove. Like pan-seared poultry, these meats also could be done by the sear-and-roast method, but stove-top cooking is simpler and works just as well. After the meat is quickly cooked, it can be combined with all sorts of grain or vegetable dishes for interesting main courses.

Cooking time for boneless chops will be a minute or two less than for bone-in chops.


• Cook the seasoned chops in hot oil over medium heat, turning once, until done.

• Let rest, preferably on a rack over a platter (so they don’t sit in their own juices and lose their crisp sear), 4 to 5 minutes. Cover lightly with aluminum foil, if desired.

• Pour off any accumulated juices and use for sauce.

Makes4 servings

Cooking Methodroasting, sauteeing


Total Timeunder 2 hours

OccasionFormal Dinner Party

Recipe Coursemain course

Dietary Considerationegg-free, gluten-free, halal, kosher, peanut free, soy free, tree nut free


Moodadventurous, festive

Taste and Textureherby, meaty, savory, sweet


  • 1 tablespoon pure olive oil
  • 1 trimmed saddle of lamb, about 3 pounds, cut into 4 equal pieces
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • ½ cup thinly sliced onion
  • ½ cup thinly sliced carrot
  • 3 tablespoons thinly sliced wild mushroom stems or 6 medium domestic mushrooms, thinly sliced
  • 2 cloves garlic, peeled and sliced thin
  • 1 sprig fresh thyme
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 6 parsley stems
  • 1 tablespoon black peppercorns
  • 6 cups lamb stock
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 cups Ratatouille
  • 3 cups lamb sauce (recipe above)
  • 4 tablespoons Basil Oil


  1. For the lamb sauce:

  2. In a large skillet, heat the olive oil over medium-high heat until just smoking. Add the onion, carrot, mushroom stems, and garlic, and sauté for 5 minutes, or until barely tender. Add the herbs, peppercorns, and lamb stock, bring to a boil, and cook until reduced by about half. Taste and adjust the seasonings. Remove the bay leaf.

  3. For the lamb:

  4. Preheat the oven to 450°F.

  5. In a large ovenproof skillet, heat the oil over high heat until just smoking sear the lamb on all sides. Transfer the pan to the oven and roast, meaty-side up, 5 minutes for rare, 6 to 7 minutes for medium, or 8 minutes for well done. Allow to rest 5 minutes before carving.

  6. To serve:

  7. Mound the ratatouille in the center of 4 serving plates. Slice the lamb thin and fan it over the ratatouille. Spoon 3 to 4 tablespoons of sauce around the lamb and drizzle about 1 tablespoon of basil oil around that.

  8. Variations:

  9. For lamb sauce, substitute Roasted Garlic-Black Olive Oil combined with a little basil or rosemary oil.

  10. For basil oil, substitute Rosemary Oil.

  11. For an elegant presentation, mold the ratatouille in a 5-inch ring and arrange the sliced lamb on top.

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