March 30, 2011

Braised Lamb Chops with Carrots and Red Wine Sauce

One of the supermarkets we shop at recently had some really wonderful-looking lamb shoulder chops.  When I saw them, I wasn't certain how I was going to prepare them, but they looked too good to pass up and I was confident I'd come up with something good to do with them, so I picked some up. 

Reading up on lamb chops, several sources agreed this particular cut of lamb was best cooked by braising.  From there, it was pretty easy to toss together a recipe that combined various seasonings and other ingredients that tend to go well with lamb and which would handle braising well, most notably red wine and tomatoes.   Since I'd be using a fair bit of liquid, I decided to also toss in some carrots, which would absorb some flavors from the braising liquid.  For best flavor and presentation, I also decided to saute the lamb chops briefly before braising them. 

These turned out really, really good.   I have to admit that the lamb chops were a tiny bit on the chewy side, which means I probably overcooked them by a couple minutes, but they were full of flavor.  The braising liquid thickened into a rich, tasty sauce with which to top the lamb, and the carrots provided a nice touch of sweetness. 

I served the chops up with Red Potatoes with Rosemary Butter, which I've written about previously.  They turned out great, just as they have before.

This isn't the sort of meal I prepare often, but it certainly made for a nice change of pace.

Braised Lamb Chops with Carrots and Red Wine Sauce

yield = 2 servings

2           round bone shoulder lamb chops, trimmed of
              excess fat
             salt and freshly ground black pepper
2           tablespoons olive oil
4           carrots, peeled and quartered
1           small onion, sliced very thin
1           teaspoon minced garlic
1           teaspoon fresh thyme leaves
1           teaspoon fresh rosemary, minced fine
1/2        cup red wine (I used a merlot)
1/4        cup low-sodium chicken broth
1           can (14.5 ounces) diced tomatoes (with liquid)

Dry the lamb chops with paper towels and sprinkle on both sides with pepper and salt.  Heat one tablespoon olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat until shimmering.  Add the lamb chops and saute to brown on both sides, 5-6 minutes total. 

While the lamb chops are sauteeing, put the carrots in a medium bowl along with 1/4 cup water.  Cover with plastic wrap and microwave 5 minutes.  Drain carrots and set aside.

Remove the lamb chops from the skillet to a plate.   Add 1 tablespoon olive oil (unless there is more than a tablespoon of fat and oil in the skillet; if there is much more than that, drain off extra and do not add olive oil).   Saute the onions until soft, 4 minutes, then add the garlic, rosemary and thyme and sautee 30 seconds.  Add the red wine and simmer until reduced by half, using a spoon to scrape up browned bits on the bottom of the skillet.  Add the chicken broth, canned tomatoes and carrots. 

Once the mixture comes to a boil, reduce heat to medium, return the lamb chops to the skillet until cooked through but tender (about 15 minutes) and the sauce has thickened.   Transfer lamb and carrots to serving platter and sauce to a bowl.   Serve the chops topped with ample portions of the sauce. 

Cooking Tips:
To get a really rich, flavorful sauce, it's worth spending the extra for quality diced tomatoes.  I used Muir Glen Fire Roasted Organic Diced Tomatoes.

To slice the onion into super-thin rings, I used my Oxo V-Blade Mandoline Slicer.  It works like a charm.

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