Confusing Meat Cuts and Braised Rosemary Lamb

>> Saturday, May 14, 2011

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When it comes to choosing cuts of meat I'm not that great. Okay, okay I do know breast, thighs, loins, chops and minced meat, the basics, that's a start no? But hear me out before you judge please, I promise I have good excuses. First excuse, language barrier. I have yet to learn all the cut names in Czech, they just don't stick in my brain. Excuse number 2, I never learned about cuts and their proper names in either English or Spanish. That is because I only started cooking about 4 year ago and we were living in Europe. Last excuse is that the cuts are different in Prague than they are in the states, and I think Mexico. My husband who worked at a butcher shop as a teenager, in the states, verified that the cuts are indeed different. See all good excuses and now you can judge me for not working harder at learning the names in Czech, haha!

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You can imagine that one of the reasons I like to do our grocery shopping together with my husband is to make sure we have decent cuts of meat to eat. When I go off by myself to pick up some meat its best to stick with fish and the few cuts I know, unless I'm feeling adventurous. Sadly for my husband I'm very curious about food. The other day I saw lamb at the grocery store and it's not an every day occurrence, woohoo happy dance! Plus it was organic meat, double happy dance! Without much more thinking about it I took the lamb home. On the walk home I was daydreaming about how soft, tender and juicy it was going to be. I showed my hubby what I bought and he broke the news to me that is was Lamb shoulder. Of course I looked at him completely perplexed and said yeah but it's going to be good right? Oh.

We both started doing some research online about the best methods to prepare this cut and all the sites suggested braised. Braising is a great technique to use on cuts that are tougher or chewier, aka cheaper cuts. But it is also a technique I like to use with other more expensive cuts. Of course good spices must be used and the results are always tender and juicy meat. We ended up with succulent lamb shoulder chops that were so tender, juicy, and the meat just fell off the bone. No fatty or tough chewy texture at all, the lamb was just awesome! Enjoy and try my recipe with any lamb cut of your choice.

Braised Rosemary Lamb Shoulder Chops

2 lamb shoulder chops, weighed 550 grams or 1.21 lb
1 medium onion, cut into 1/8ths
3 large garlic cloves, thinly sliced
2 tbsp butter
1 tsp dried thyme
1 1/2 tbsp dried rosemary
6 whole allspice, crushed
salt and pepper to taste
1/2 cup or 118 ml vegetable broth, low sodium and no MSG

1. Preheat the oven to 150c / 300f. Over medium heat melt the butter in a frying pan, saute the onion and garlic for 5 minutes then add the spices and cook for another 2 minutes. Remove the pan contents and set aside. Turn heat to high, Pat dry the lamb then place in frying pan. Brown on both sides. Turn heat off. Mix the onion spice mixture back with the lamb.
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2. Place the lamb and pan contents into a baking dish and pour the broth over the lamb, place in center of oven. The lamb will need to cook for 3 – 4 hours or until the meat is very tender and breaks up easily.
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Do not let the baking dish dry out, add a little more water or broth as needed. Reserve the pan juices and serve as a sauce over the meat.

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I served our lamb with some mashed potatoes, my Love Handle Mash Potatoes , and some garlic baby spinach.

See mistakes always have a way of working themselves out and an inexpensive cut of meat if cooked correctly can still be tasty. Amen, let's eat!


Alina---Explora Cuisine May 14, 2011 at 5:26 PM  

Great recipe and the lamb looks delicious, just wonderful! this is my favourite way of cooking the lamb as well :) I understand what you mean with the meat cutts, it's exactly the same thing for me being in Toronto, it's different from what I know back home (well, a little bit I guess :)) Enjoy your weekend!!!

Spicie Foodie May 14, 2011 at 5:35 PM  

Hi Alina, Thank you and glad to hear you also enjoy lamb this way. So you are a fellow expat who understands what I'm talking about. You too have a great weekend!

claudia lamascolo May 14, 2011 at 5:58 PM  

I have to tell you looking at this, I just said wow now this is something not only me but the whole family is going to love. I absolutely love lamb... these look juicy, tender and the rosesmary has to be awesome on these.

Spicie Foodie May 14, 2011 at 6:03 PM  

Thanks Claudia! Yes the rosemary compliments lamb perfectly. I hope your family enjoys it, if you make it for them.

Belinda @zomppa May 14, 2011 at 6:04 PM  

No excuses needed, not with this meal! You are amazing for researching and learning - this braised meal looks so satisfying.

Spicie Foodie May 14, 2011 at 6:09 PM  

Aw, thanks Belinda :) Both my brain and stomach are always hungry for more , hehe. Have a great weekend .

Torviewtoronto May 14, 2011 at 7:47 PM  

deliciously done looks wonderful

Michelle Chin May 14, 2011 at 7:55 PM  

They look so tender!

I usually ask the butcher. I buy according to what he tells me. ;)

Sandra May 14, 2011 at 8:14 PM  

Looks like it came out very good.

Anonymous,  May 14, 2011 at 9:08 PM  

Wow.... must wipe drool off my chin now. Literally! I love braised meats and yours turn out perfect!

Chef Dennis May 14, 2011 at 9:40 PM  

it looks like you did a great job with the lamb, they remind me of veal shanks that I use to make osso bucco out of ...I do bet it was delicious!
thanks for sharing it with us!

Claudia May 14, 2011 at 9:54 PM  

I am a huge fan of braising lamb shoulder and your dinner is a stunner. I'm ready to go find a lamb shoulder... even with the stores closed.

Correen May 14, 2011 at 11:57 PM  

Ya know, even this gal in the states still struggles with cuts of meat and what to do. You did it and showed us how...wtg! The only thing I'd feel compelled to do, because of my English heritage, is drizzle a bit of mint sauce over my piece of lamb...perhaps some on the mashed potatoes too. ;)

Foodiva May 15, 2011 at 12:25 AM  

Yum, yum, yum! That lamb looks so tender and delicious... And I'm so, so glad you admitted to your knowledge about cuts, because I know very little as well! I have to bring my husband shopping for meat too and now that I know someone else does it makes me feel tons better. LOL. I guess at this age, I should really learn about meat cuts in a little more depth, just so I can teach my daughter someday (in case she marries someone who's just as clueless about meats!).

Susan Lindquist May 15, 2011 at 8:23 AM  

This looks just so 'fall off the bone' delicious! When I first got out of college, I used to buy lamb chops because they were so cheap ... I always had them with a pilaf and a pan sear with garlic and thyme rub ... it's been a long time since I've cooked lamb! Thanks for the inspiration!

Jen at The Three Little Piglets May 15, 2011 at 9:39 AM  

There's a great book called Lobel's Meat Bible that tells you everything you ever want to know about meat, if you're looking to learn a little more. It talks about each type of meat and the cuts, and includes lots of different recipes for them. I highly recommend it! I still learn something new every time I pick it up.

Sandra May 15, 2011 at 9:53 AM  

Wonderful recipe, and I love that is really tender! I am totally with you on meat cuts, no idea what is what:)) but there is my best friend Google who knows everything ha-haha
Nicely done Nancy!

Sommer J May 15, 2011 at 11:18 AM  

You did a great job! I, too, am learning cuts and a new language to talking to the butcher about good cuts too stew is both challenging and hilarious to any onlookers...

Your lamb looks perfectly tender and supple mmm

Indonesian In Turkey May 15, 2011 at 3:21 PM  

YUM! looks so tender and juicy.. must be great meal for dinner/ lunch menu.
Here, I just ask the butcher to cut as I need/ want.. I never learn how to cut correctly also :p But I think U did great work here ^,^

Hester Casey - Alchemy May 15, 2011 at 5:22 PM  

I have the same problem with various cuts of meat when I visit France so I completely understand where you are coming from. The lamb looks sticky and delicious and melt-in-the-mouth. Garlic, thyme, rosemary and cooked on the bone - this is a winner!

Victoria May 15, 2011 at 7:10 PM  

That's the beautiful thing about braising, it can do wonders for cheap cuts of meat ;) Language barriers can be really difficult, especially when it comes to food. But no worries, it looks like a small supermarket mistake resulted in a really tender and incredible dish! Success!!!

drcasanova May 16, 2011 at 2:23 AM  

This whole thing looks sounds superb. I'm actually thinking of some drops of my light wine instead of water just to not dry out pan. I can't wait to make the recipe. Thanks for this post, yes I like the recipe.

Magic of Spice May 16, 2011 at 10:59 PM  

You did such a beautiful job with this really looks perfectly prepared :)

Pacheco Patty May 17, 2011 at 10:13 AM  

Hi Nancy, I love braised lamb with rosemary, your photos are beautiful. I'm fortunate to go to a good butcher so I can ask for advice and I like to try new cuts of meat, sometimes full of flavor you never expected;-)

Pola May 18, 2011 at 12:12 AM  

I totally understand! I have problems with American cuts myself and often resort to meat charts to figure out what is the American equivalent of an Italian cut. Doesn't always work, but sometimes it helps!

The Mom Chef May 22, 2011 at 9:27 PM  

I adore lamb and would have been doing the happy dance with you had I found it in the store! You did an incredible job with the braising. It looks perfectly delicious.

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