Braised Lamb Shoulder with Root Vegetables

Before I put the blog in summer grilling gear I still have a little spring to get through. Spring is tricky. Fresh vegetables are going in the ground, and ramps, leeks, pea shoots, and few other new items turn up at the farmer's market, but its still a wintry landscape. Cheese, meat, eggs, honey, and root vegetables are abundant. Its also still chilly here, well sometimes its 40 degrees and sometimes its 75. You know, normal global climate change stuff.

Lamb is always my favorite. Its not gamy. I swear you should revisit it if you have not already. A lot of cuts of lamb (shank, leg etc.) are large and suited for a large meal. Then lamb shoulder chop is a dinner size cut. Its also a pretty good value. Lamb can be moist and flavorful or tough and awful. Braise, braise, braise. This is not quite a weeknight meal, but do as I do, cook on the Sunday for the week ahead.

Braised Lamb Shoulder with Root Vegetables
4 lamb shoulder chops
salt and pepper
2 cloves garlic, crushed
red pepper flakes
1/4 tsp dried rosemary
1 leek, whole chopped into 3 inch pieces
1 tsp worchestire sauce
3 cups water

1 1/2 - 2 pounds of mixed root vegetables such as carrot, turnip, parsnip, or rutabaga, cut into 2 inch chunks, reserve tops and skins for braising broth
1 tsp sugar
1/2 tsp salt

Preheat oven to 275 degrees. Allow lamb chops to sit out for 30 minutes to remove the chill from the refrigerator. This help prevents your pan from cooling down. Pat lamb chops with a paper towel to remove excess moisture. Sprinkle lamb with salt and freshly ground pepper.

Heat a cast iron pan or other thick-bottomed pan to high until pan is smoking and very hot. Add chops and brown on each side, about 2-3 minutes a side. Do not overcrowd the pan.

Meanwhile bring leek, rosemary, leek, red pepper and worchestire and root vegetable tops and peels and 3 cups water to a boil. This will be the base of your braising liquid.  Pout into baking pan. Add lamb chops to baking pan after they have been browned. When all 4 chops are done cover baking pan with foil tightly and put in oven. Bake for 1 1/2 to 2 hours until the meat is tender and falling off the bone. Flip chops half way through cooking. When ready remove from oven, peel off foil and allow to cool for 20-30 minutes.

Cover root vegetables with water in a medium sized saucepan with water to cover 1 inch. Add 1 tsp sugar and 1/2 tsp salt. Cover, bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer for about 15-20 minutes until fork tender. Drain, cover with cool water to stop cooking. Drain and allow to sit.

Place cooked lamb on a plate and cover with foil to keep warm. Strain baking pan juices and vegetables through a sieve reserving the liquids. Press the vegetables to get all their slow cooked lamb goodness out. Place strained liquids in a sauce pan and simmer for 10-15 minutes to reduce. Add root vegetables, and cook until heated through about 5-7 minutes. Serve together with lamb. Its a whole meal, but a salad and some bread might be nice to. Don't forget the red wine!


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