Monday, March 24, 2008

Braised Lamb Shoulder

I made this lovely braised lamb shoulder for Easter. It was so delicious and succulent and there was hardly any fat on it because I removed most it before cooking. I also braised the lamb in tomato juice instead of wine; I think the tomato juice gave it another dimension. I served it with some couscous with roasted veggies on the side. All in all, the lamb was quite popular and it was gone before I knew it. I didn't think a lot of people would like lamb, but apparently it's one of those secret indulgences most of us Mexicans and non-Mexicans have.

INGREDIENTS (serves 4 to 5 hungry people at Easter)

  • 3 pounds lamb shoulder (deboned, if possible)
  • 1 lemon, cut in half
  • 1 tablespoon kosher salt
  • 1 teaspoon fresh ground black pepper
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried rosemary
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1/2 pound carrots, cut into 2" chuncks
  • 4 stalks celery, cut into 2" chunks
  • 1 large yellow onion, peeled and sliced
  • 1/4 cup red wine
  • 1/2 cup chicken stock, low sodium
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 2 large garlic cloves, peeled
  • 1 (28 oz.) can of tomato juice
  • 1 tablespoon finely minced parsely
  • 1 tablespoon finely mince mint

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

The day before: wash lamb in cold water and pat dry. Trim off as much fat as possible. Squeeze the juice of lemon all over and inside the lamb.

In a small bowl combine salt, pepper, garlic, thyme, rosemary and oregano. Rub this mixture all over the lamb shoulder. Tie the lamb with butcher's twine. Cover in plastic wrap and let it marinate in the refrigerator overnight.

The next day: Remove plastic wrap from lamb. Heat one tablespoon olive oil in a Dutch oven on medium high. Sear lamb on each side for 2 minutes. Remove lamb onto another plate. Add the carrots, celery, onion, 2 whole garlic cloves, red wine, chicken stock, and bay leaves. Simmer for 30 seconds and turn off heat. Place the lamb back on top of veggies and add the tomato juice. Cover the top of the pan with plastic wrap or with parchment paper, then with aluminum foil (don't let the foil touch tomato juice).

Bake in the oven for 2 1/2 hours. Remove meat and tent with foil to keep warm.

Remove bay leaves. Put about 2 cups of the lamb/tomato juices and half of veggies into a blender. Puree for 1 minute. Strain through a sieve. Heat the sauce in a small saucepan on low us until ready to use.

To serve: Remove butcher's string from lamb. Slice shoulder into 1/2" slices and place them onto your serving plater. Drizzle the strained juices all over the meat and sprinkle a mixture of parsley and mint. A side of couscous goes excellent with this dish.

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