Opposites attract in this fetching dish from Houston’s Ritz-Carlton Hotel. A dusting of cajun seasoning and split-second blackening forthrightly support the lamb’s delicate flavor, and an opulent creamy sauce emboldened with jalapeños positions this creation by executive sous-chef Kevin Dimond squarely in the Southwest.

Dimond’s mix-and-match technique has found a champion in the restaurant’s new executive chef, Todd Rogers, whose extensive travels have contributed to the carefree and exotic pairings of ingredients in many of the dishes on the menu. A perennial favorite, these lamb chops are more than just a flash in the pan.

Kevin Dimond’s Ballroom Lamb Chops

16 lamb chops
2 tablespoons olive oil
Cajun Magic (see recipe below)
Jalapeño–blue cheese sauce (see recipe below)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Brush lamb chops with thin coat of olive oil, then dip in Cajun Magic blackening spice mixture, coating them on all sides. In hot cast-iron skillet, sear chops for a few seconds, just until blackened. Remove chops from skillet, and place in shallow pan. Bake for 20 minutes, until chops reach desired doneness (baking time depends on thickness of chops). Serve with jalapeño–blue cheese sauce as accompaniment. Serves 4.

Cajun Magic

1 teaspoon fennel seeds
1 1/2 teaspoons dried lavender
1 1/2 teaspoons sandalwood
1 teaspoon fresh thyme
1 teaspoon fresh oregano
1 teaspoon chili powder
3 teaspoons ground black pepper
1 teaspoon ground white pepper
1 1/2 teaspoons granulated onion
3 teaspoons garlic powder
1 teaspoon Hungarian paprika
1 1/2 teaspoons ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon salt

To make the blackening spice mixture, place fennel seeds, lavender, sandalwood, thyme, and oregano in food processor, and chop roughly. Add remaining ingredients, and blend well.

Jalapeño–Blue Cheese Sauce

2 fresh jalapeños
2 ounces cream
2 ounces sour cream
4 ounces mayonnaise
1/4 bunch cilantro
1/4 bunch parsley
4 ounces blue cheese
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
Salt to taste
Pepper to taste

Clean and seed jalapeños, then combine all ingredients in blender and mix until smooth. If mixture becomes too thick, add a bit more cream. Add salt and pepper to taste. This sauce also complements game and dark meats.