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"A gourmet who thinks of calories is like a tart who looks at her watch." - James Beard


Friday, September 14, 2012

Braised Lamb

Super cheap lamb shoulder chops at the supermarket led me to this absolutely stunning lamb dish. The recipe calls for lamb shanks but the chops worked beautifully.  I'll tell you about the beans tomorrow.  

As you can see, the lamb itself only cost around $5 for four chops. I bought four because the chops were pretty thin but the meat was so rich we could only eat half of it.  

In addition you'll need:

  • 2 celery stalks
  • 1 carrot
  • 1 onion
  • 8 (!) garlic cloves
  • some thyme
  • 1 bottle red wine
  • 1 carton chicken stock (3-4 cups)
  • 1 tablespoon tomato paste
  • olive oil, salt and pepper

Heat the oil in an oven-safe casserole or enamelled cast-iron pot.  

Sprinkle the chops on both sides with salt and pepper and add to the hot pan.

After 2 minutes or so, when the lamb is browned, flip to brown the other side.

I browned these in batches, two at a time, so they wouldn't be crowded in the pan.  Once browned, remove to a plate.

Now coarsely chop the carrot, onion, garlic and celery.

And add to the pan.

Once the veggies are softened, pour in the wine. You can use about 3 cups or a whole bottle.  

Bring the wine to a simmer and add the chicken stock and tomato paste, then add the lamb back to the pot.
Put the lid on the pot and pop it into a 350 degree oven for about 2 hours.  When it's done it'll look like this:

The liquid has reduced and the lamb is falling off the bone.  Now you can proceed in one of two ways. You can use a spoon to skim the fat off the sauce, remove the lamb, strain the sauce and serve tonight...

OR you can put the whole thing in the fridge overnight letting the fat solidify for easy removal and giving you a warm, delicious, fancy weeknight dinner that heats up in minutes.

As you can see, I chose the latter.
It's a little tricky to scoop the fat when the meat is not totally submerged, but it's still way easier than doing it while it's hot. And letting it sit overnight does wonders for the flavours.

Once you've removed as much fat as you can, place the covered pot back in the oven for about 30 minutes to warm through.  Meanwhile make your beans and gremolata which I'll tell you about next time.

Once warmed through, remove the lamb from the oven.

Remove the lamb from the pot and cover to keep warm, then strain the sauce into a smaller saucepan and discard the solids (bones, carrots, etc.)

Let the sauce simmer and reduce for about 5 minutes, then add a bit of butter and salt and pepper.  The butter is optional but that's what the pros do and it adds new richness to the sauce.

Serve the lamb drizzled with the sauce and topped with fresh gremolata.  

This is a great main dish but wait until you hear about the whole meal!

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