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~