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Braised Lamb Shoulder Chops with Tomatoes and Rosemary

Lamb shoulder chops are much less expensive than loin or rib chops, and because they have many more bones, they are far more flavorful as well. You would not want to braise the pricier, smaller loin or rib chops—which are best served rosy and pink—but shoulder chops develop an irresistible richness after simmering in a red-wine broth.

Ingredients:

  • 4 lamb shoulder chops, each 10 to 12 oz. and 3/4 inch thick, trimmed of excess fat 
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste 
  • 2 Tbs. olive oil 
  • 2 large shallots, finely chopped 
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced 
  • 1 Tbs. minced fresh rosemary 
  • 1/3 cup dry red wine 
  • 5 canned tomatoes, preferably San Marzano, with some of their juices, coarsely chopped 
  • 10 to 12 pitted Kalamata olives, coarsely chopped 
  • 1 1/2 Tbs. fresh flat-leaf parsley leaves 

Directions:

Generously season the chops on both sides with salt and pepper. Place a large, heavy fry pan over medium-high heat and warm 1 Tbs. of the olive oil. When the oil begins to shimmer, add the chops without crowding them in the pan, and sear for 2 to 2 1/2 minutes. Turn the chops over and sear for 2 to 2 1/2 minutes more. Transfer to a platter.

Pour off the fat from the pan and reduce the heat to medium-low; wait for about 1 minute for the pan to cool down. Warm the remaining 1 Tbs. olive oil. Add the shallots and cook until softened, about 5 minutes. Add the garlic and rosemary and cook, stirring, for 1 minute more. Add the wine and deglaze the pan, stirring to scrape up the browned bits from the pan bottom. Simmer the liquid until reduced by about half, about 2 minutes.

Stir in the tomatoes and their juices and the olives. Return the chops to the pan, reduce the heat to low, cover and simmer gently until the chops are tender and still slightly pink at the center and an instant-read thermometer inserted into a chop, away from the bone, registers 135° to 145°F, about 15 minutes, or until done to your liking. Turn the chops over and redistribute them halfway through cooking. Transfer the chops to warmed plates.

Increase the heat to high and simmer briskly until the braising juices are slightly thickened, 3 to 4 minutes. Taste and adjust the seasonings. Stir in the parsley. Spoon the sauce over the chops and serve immediately. Serves 4.

A note from the butcher: Braises like this can also be prepared with lamb shanks, which make a beautiful presentation, especially when the bone is frenched. But our favorite choice for braising is the neck, which is the most flavorful and unctuously delicious cut on the lamb, in our opinion.
— Joshua Applestone, Fleisher’s Grass-fed & Organic Meats, Kingston, NY

Adapted from Williams-Sonoma The Cook and The Butcher, by Brigit Binns (Weldon Owen, Inc., 2011).