I’m not going to pretend that I’m all about clean eating. I’m all about pretty food, and I’m all about pretending that I’m a chef in my kitchen. Which is where this came from. The plating, no matter how much it will make people cross their eyes, is something that I love, and that Mr. Houseful got a kick out of. This is the third installation of our Valentine’s dinner series, and while the kids didn’t get a plate this pretty (I still cut their lamb up, and skipped out on wrapping pickled onions around their carrots – because – touching food) they did enjoy the meal as well. These are braised lamb shoulder, and this just may be the favorite cut of lamb that I’ve had. I mean, lamb chops are a gift from heaven, but shoulder?! Magnificent!
This creation was also done in one of my dutch ovens (a red one – one of these days I REALLY have to introduce you all properly to my dutch oven love) and used lots of different things to flavor, and I didn’t have to go on a wild goose chase to get them. I did pick my lamb up from Whole Foods, and while pricey, I knew that I was getting a great cut, and it was fresh. The recipe that I used suggested cutting it into chops beforehand, but the Whole Foods butcher advised against it, so I went with his suggestion. I may try it the original way sometime later, but I wasn’t disappointed with the way that it came out. One thing that I DO need to keep on hand is dry white wine. EVERYTHING calls for it that I want to cook, and I don’t drink it.
The general consensus was that the meat was tender and flavorful – not as gamey as our lamb chops normally are (which we don’t mind) but a perfect melody of the ingredients used to infuse flavor. I enjoyed cooking this, and may just feature it for a certain someone’s birthday dinner.
It was suggested that I pair this with pita bread and tzatziki sauce (both homemade of course) but I ran out of time, and wanted folks to eat at a reasonable time.
Do you like lamb? What cut? Do you think that you could try this?
- 3 pounds boneless lamb shoulder, fat trimmed, cut into 8 pieces
- Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 fennel bulb, coarsely chopped
- 1 medium onion, coarsely chopped
- 1 head of garlic, halved crosswise
- 1 cup dry white wine
- 1 orange, with peel, cut into pieces
- 2 bay leaves
- 1 cinnamon stick
- 1 14.5- oz. can peeled whole tomatoes
- 3 cups low-sodium chicken broth
- Heat oven to 325°. Pat lamb dry; season with salt and pepper. Heat oil in a Dutch oven or other large heavy pot over medium-high heat. Cook lamb, turning occasionally, until browned on all sides, 6–8 minutes; transfer to a plate.
- Add fennel, onion, and garlic to same pot and cook, stirring frequently, until golden brown and softened, 6–8 minutes. Add wine and bring to a boil, scraping up brown bits. Reduce heat and simmer until reduced by half, 6–8 minutes.
- Add orange, bay leaves, cinnamon stick, tomatoes, and broth along with lamb to pot. Bring to a simmer, cover pot, and transfer to oven. Braise until lamb is fork-tender, 1½–2 hours. Transfer lamb to a clean plate.
- Strain cooking liquid through a fine-mesh sieve into a large bowl; return to pot. Bring to a boil, reduce heat, and simmer until thick and velvety, 20–30 minutes.