I just logged on to the SF board and saw a post about finding a restaurant that served lamb shoulder.
That made me remember that one hardly ever sees that cut anymore. Lamb shanks, yes..even lamb riblets (at Berkeley Bowl), but it must be obtainable if one asks.
Anybody have any good recipes? My mother used to make it often and we loved it....fat and all.
You can stuff a lamb shoulder or a lamb breast and pan roast. My stuffing usually includes ground lamb and sausage, garlic, bread crumbs (preferably moistened with milk), parsley, egg, grated pecorino, maybe some chopped spinach/chard, a little nutmeg (basically the same thing you would do to make meatballs.) Stuff into the meat (ask your butcher to cut a pocket in it and secure with toothpicks), season with salt and pepper. Then brown both sides of the roast in a dutch oven. Add a few cloves of whole garlic, a sprig of rosemary and enough white wine to cover the bottom of the pan by an inch or so. Cover and simmer at the lowest possible heat for as long as you want to. The roast should throw off enough moisture to keep everything deliciously moist. I think two or three hours on the stove yields meat so tender you can eat it with a spoon, not to mention a syrupy, concentrated sauce. Also tastes great the next day with pasta or as a sandwich filling. One of my favorite winter meals.
This is my attempt to recreate something I had at an Adriatic restaurant once. This produces a remarkably unlovely mess, looking like something dredged from a swamp. It, however, smells wonderful and tastes great.
ADRIATIC-INSPIRED LAMB STEW
Into my crockpot goes cheap lamb meat, fat trimmed off and meat cut into manageable stew-style pieces (bones and all). Then a big bunch of chard, sans stems, or better yet, a generous amount of spinach. And of course, chopped onion and a little garlic. If I have an eggplant I'll dump in some cubes of that. Finally, pour in tomato sauce from an 8oz can. Add some cumin, salt and pepper. Cook away for a few hours.
You'll need some crusty bread for this.
The difficulty of finding lamb is mainly one of demographics rather than PR. Here in LA County the Latino population has surged to about 50% and they eat very little lamb. To make matters worse, the large supermarket chains (Vons/Safeway, Ralphs/Kroger and Albertsons) are changing to 'lifestyle' stores, trade-speak for 'prepackaged, quick cook or reheat products for yuppies':-/; they don't have much lamb either. I dare you to find ground lamb on short notice. The only consistent sources for lamb are the high end markets (Bristol Farms, Gelsons, Andronicos, Whole Paycheck) or some mom-and-pop butcher shops.
Don't know where in LA County you live, but both Vons and Ralphs in Pasadena always have lamb, as of course does Trader Joe. Also not true about Latinos and lamb - our Farm Fresh on Orange Grove has lamb both fresh and frozen, as does the King Ranch market in Monrovia. And the Hawaii Supermarket (Asian) in San Gabriel has very inexpensive frozen lamb, including boned shoulder.
I did have a lot of trouble trying to find lamb shanks for a cassoulet last winter, and wound up at Bristol Farms buying freshly-cut lamb neck instead , which turned out to be a great improvement.
My butcher often has lamb shoulder steaks. I quickly pan-fry with garlic, olive oil, salt and pepper, and deglaze with whatever I happen to be guzzling at the moment. One of our favorite "fast food" dinners...and it's frequently seen on Basque menus, too. I think lamb is one of those delicious foods that suffers from bad PR (kinda like okra).
I have used lamb shoulder to make lamb stew with flageolets. The recipe comes from Marcella Hazan, and I think it's in "Essentials" -- but I am not 100% sure as I have many of her cookbooks. Let me know if you want the recipe and I'll post it. It's a great cool weather recipe.
Yes! It's in *Marcella's Italian Kitchen* (Spezzato di agnello coi fagioli/Lamb stew with white kidney beans), couldn't be easier to make and is as comforting as a good cassoulet.
Bone-in lamb shoulder chunks are dredged in flour, browned in oil and transferred to a dutch oven that contains lightly browned sliced onion and sage. White wine, a little tomato paste and meat broth are added, the pot is covered and the whole thing is baked until the meat is tender. Drained canned beans are added and the pot returned to the oven for 15 minutes more. Just before serving, the touch of genius: a *hachis* of chopped parsley and garlic is stirred in, kicking the stew to savoury new heights.
I made a lamb stew tonight loosely based on your description above, and boy was it good. Dredged the lamb shoulder steaks/parts in flour and then well browned in a dutch oven. I had to do this in three batches [I had bought a lot.] Removed all the meat, removed the fat and added some olive oil. Sauteed onions past transparent and onto the edge of caramlized before adding rosemary still on the stalk and garlic. Some fancy essence of tomato, just a teaspoon, and let that cook until it was distributed evenly over the onions. I then added about 1/2 cup of vermouth, let that cook down before adding no-salt beef broth. Put the meat back in, lined the dutch oven top with parchment paper [ala Stevens] and put into a 300º degree oven. After an hour, I reduced the temperature to 250º.
After 2 hours, I removed the top layer of fat/juice and put that into the fridge to separate. Meanwhile, I added the baby cannellini beans and back into the oven for another hour. Skimmed the fat from the removed juice, and added back to the pot.
I then made a gremolata of lemon rind, parsley and garlic to top with at the table.
Excellent meal. Thank you so much for posting.
Braised Lamb Shoulder with Potatoes and Fennel
1/2 cup fresh breadcrumbs
1 sprig fresh rosemary, finely chopped, plus 1 sprig whole
1 sprig fresh sage, leaves finely chopped, plus 1 sprig whole
5 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
One (6-pound) lamb shoulder with 10 inches of shank bone left intact, trimmed
Coarse salt and freshly ground pepper
1 pound fingerling potatoes, scrubbed
3 bulbs fennel, trimmed, each cut into 8 wedges
3 ribs celery, cut on the bias into 1/2-inch pieces
1 tablespoon whole coriander seeds, crushed
4 plum tomatoes, peeled, halved, and cored
2 Meyer lemons, thinly sliced crosswise
2 cups homemade chicken stock or canned low-sodium chicken broth
2 tablespoons tomato paste
4 cloves cloves garlic, finely chopped, plus 8 cloves, thinly sliced crosswise
1. Preheat oven to 300° with rack the in lower third of the oven. In a medium bowl, combine breadcrumbs with chopped garlic, chopped rosemary, and chopped sage; drizzle with 2 tablespoons oil, and toss to combine. Set aside. Using kitchen twine, tie together remaining sprigs of rosemary and sage to make an herb bouquet; set aside.
2. Season lamb with salt and pepper. Heat remaining 3 tablespoons oil in a large Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Add lamb, searing on all sides until golden brown, 7 to 10 minutes. Remove lamb; set aside.
3. Add potatoes, fennel, celery, sliced garlic, coriander, and reserved herb bouquet to the Dutch oven; sauté, stirring, for 5 to 6 minutes. Stir in tomatoes, lemons, chicken stock, and tomato paste. Return lamb to pot, and sprinkle reserved breadcrumb mixture evenly over lamb.
4. Cover, and transfer to oven; cook for 1 hour. Using a pastry brush, baste the lamb, being careful not to disturb the crumb crust. Cover, and cook until crust is golden and crispy, about 30 minutes more. Transfer lamb and vegetables to a large serving platter; serve immediately.
The Veau Sylvie recipe in Julia Child's Mastering the Art of French Cooking (and The French Chef cookbook from the series) is excellent, but very rich. It's basically veal breast, sliced into and stuffed with ham and cheese. Marcella Hazan has a stuffed veal breast in Classics of Italian Cooking that is also excellent, though I prefer the Veau Sylvie.
As the recipes need to be followed verbatim, please feel free to email me offline and I will send you the recipes. : )