A Little Lamb

I was at the grocery store recently doing the regular shopping.  The trick is to buy what’s on the list and only what’s on the list.  This rarely happens.  I have gotten better at predicting what we can cook within the week and eat within the week without a lot of leftovers.  Still, I’m subject to temptation just like any other consumer.

At the meatcase I spy a package of 2 lamb shoulder chops.  On special.  Do I need lamb shoulder chops?  Well, no, but…  lamb at that price?  Into the cart with you!

Yesterday afternoon I unwrapped my impulse buy and tossed the chops into a ziplock bag with orange juice and a quarter cup of salt.  I have taken to heart the lessons learned from Alton Brown on the benefits of brining meat and I encourage you to learn more about it if you’re not currently using this technique.

I left the chops in the bag for about 40 minutes.  In the past I left some pork chops in the brine too long (I’ll grant you I probably over salted the liquid as well).  That night my wife and I enjoyed some very salty pork.   Not wanting to repeat that episode I erred on the side of caution.  Besides, the brining was just the beginning of my tenderizing process.

I replaced the OJ/salt mixture in the bag with 6 ounces of beer and let the chops sit in that for one hour.  Dried them off and then braised them in a hot iron skillet for a few minutes per side.   Next phase; slow cooking.

This was not enough meat to pull out the large slow cooker we have so I used a pyrex baking dish and preheated the oven to 325 degrees.  I poured the remaining 6 ounces plus an additional 12 ounces of beer into the dish, chopped 2 cloves of garlic and snipped a long stem of fresh rosemary.  I laid the sprig in the center of the pan and placed the 2 chops on top of that, added salt and pepper and the garlic.  Covered. It tightly with foil, and tossed it into the oven for 3 hours.

Wow, tender and tasty.  I had forgotten how strong lamb can be, next time I’ll add additional spices to help balance the flavor.  I must admit, it sure was tender and tasty!  I just finished eating the last chop while I wrote this.  Happy cooking!!  ~Tom~

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