who's in the kitchen

Wowing your dinner guests right from the start


As a personal chef, I am sometimes asked by clients to recommend a signature mouthwatering dish that is sure to impress their guests. Without hesitation, I always offer my favorite appetizer: baby lamb chops in pastry dough smothered in mushroom sauce.  

This recipe has quite a few steps, but the finished product is well worth the effort. Just ask my good friends, Ira Grosser, Joe Grob and Jack Shafran. When they are invited to my home for dinner, it’s a given that I’m going to make baby lamb chops wrapped in pastry dough and smothered in onion and mushroom sauce ... or else.

In my opinion, no single gesture by a host or hostess shows culinary sophistication quite like serving an impressive appetizer. While this recipe may initially sound a bit intimidating, to quote Chef James Beard, “The only thing that will make a soufflé fall is if it knows you are afraid of it.” Keep that in mind as you follow these directions.

Baby Lamb Chops in Pastry Dough, Served With Mushroom and Onion Sauce

10 baby lamb chops, uniform in size

4 round bone shoulder lamb chops

10 pieces of puff pastry frozen dough dough (3 x 3 inch)

10 paper caps to encircle the bone end of the chops, optional

2 lbs. fresh mushrooms

5 large onions, peeled and diced

1/8 cup of Mikee garlic stir-fry and rib sauce 

10 sprigs of fresh rosemary

garlic powder



8 Tbsp. Osem mushroom soup mix

2 cups cold water

1/4 tsp. Kitchen Bouquet browning and seasoning sauce

1 cup canola oil

Slice and sauté mushrooms in a small amount of canola oil. When they are just about done, raise the heat and pour in a tablespoon of garlic sauce. Mix thoroughly for a minute. Peel, dice and sauté onions in canola oil until they are soft and caramelized, about 40 minutes.

Rinse, and pat dry 10 baby lamb chops. Place them on a lightly greased half sheet pan and sprinkle with garlic powder, salt and pepper. Broil on high for two and a half minutes on each side. Remove from oven and set aside.

Rinse and pat dry 4 shoulder lamb chops, place in lightly greased 8 by 11 pan, and brush with Mikee Garlic Stir Fry and Rib sauce. Pour 1/4 cup of water in the bottom of the pan and cover with aluminum foil. Bake for one hour at 350 degrees. After removing from the oven, keep covered while letting cool. Once cooled, cut the shoulder lamb chops into small pieces and discard the bones. Set aside.

Take the 10 baby lamb chops and “french” the bones. To do this, scrape the meat on the long part of the bone, but leave the main part of the lamb chop meat intact. You can put the pieces of meat from the bones along with the cut pieces of shoulder lamb chops.

Keep the puff pastry frozen until you are ready to assemble the lamb chops. They only take about two minutes to defrost. Stretch the dough gently by the sides so that it enlarges the area of the square a bit. Lay the dough on a lightly floured surface.

Place 1 tsp. of caramelized onions, 1 Tbsp. of mushrooms and 1 Tbsp. of shoulder lamb chop chunks in the center of the dough square. Gently place the baby lamb chop “eye” on top. Fold the pastry dough around the lamb chop, until all the ingredients are covered, but leaving the entire long bone bare.

Place chop, seam side down, on a lightly greased half sheet pan. Repeat with the remaining 9 baby lamb chops.

Place in oven for about 10 minutes at 425 degrees, until till the pastry dough turns a golden brown.

Place 8 Tbsp. of Osem mushroom soup and seasoning mix in a pan. Slowly add 2 cups of cold water, while stirring, making sure to smooth out any lumps.

Place on a low flame and stir constantly until mixture starts to thicken, about 5 minutes. Then add the remaining mushrooms and onions and 1/8 tsp. of Kitchen Bouquet. Let simmer for another 5 minutes, stirring occasionally.

If you are serving this dish on Friday night, place lamb chops and mushroom sauce in the warming drawer or on the blech, but not on the hottest part.

When ready to serve, place the lamb chop in the center of the plate and spoon the sauce on half the pastry portion, letting it drip down the sides onto the plate.

Place a sprig of rosemary in the center of the dough.

This dish is sure to appeal to advanced epicures and novices. Enjoy!

Judy’s on vacation. A version of this column appeared in 2011.