With the weather warming and the winter chill thawing, it won’t be long before it’s too warm to have the oven on for hours to braise something. As I was cleaning out the freezer the other day, I found a lamb shoulder that’s been in there since last summer. I decided to thaw it out and do something with it before it got lost again for another season.
Because lamb shoulder has a lot of fat and connective tissue it won’t dry out, and tends to benefit from slow cooking techniques such as roasting and braising. Some people find lamb to be a little gamey, but it’s full of flavor and can be delicious when prepared properly.
The trick is to use lots of spices and garlic when preparing lamb. For this dish I used a ton of cumin and a generous helping of garlic. The pomegranate molasses also adds a wonderful flavor while bringing sweetness and acidity to the dish. The chickpeas absorb the flavors in the braising liquid and make this a one-pot meal.
You could also make it in a slow cooker, just do the browning and sautéing in a pan, and then transfer it to the slow cooker after adding all the liquids and scrapping up all the browned bits off the bottom of the pan.
Serve this with some rice, cous cous or a flatbread like naan or lavash. The leftovers make great sandwiches or wraps with some salad greens mint and yogurt.
Braised Lamb with Chickpeas
Made with a variety of ingredients that complement each other, this recipe is perfect for slow cooking and uses all of the spices to add a unique and succulent flavor to the lamb. Marc Matsumoto of NoRecipes shares this recipe in a full post on the Fresh Tastes Blog.
- 2 tablespoons kosher salt (halve if using regular salt)
- 1 tablespoon brown sugar
- 1 tablespoon cumin seeds
- 1 teaspoon garam masala
- 3-4 pound lamb shoulder roast
- 1 cup dried chick peas
- 4 cloves of garlic minced
- 2 large onions sliced thin
- 1/3 cup pomegranate molasses
- 1/2 cup chicken stock
- The day before you want to make the lamb, combine the salt, sugar, cumin and garam masala in a small bowl and stir to combine. Rub this mixture all over the lamb, wrap tightly in plastic wrap, then put the whole thing in a bowl to prevent spills, and put it in the fridge. Rinse the dried chickpeas in cold water several times, then cover the chickpeas with about 3" of water and let them rehydrate overnight.
- Preheat the oven to 250 degrees F.
- Heat a tablespoon of olive oil in a large dutch oven or other heavy bottomed pot until hot. Add the lamb, discarding any juices that have accumulated. Fry until a brown crust has formed on one side, then flip the roast over using tongs and fry the other side until a brown crust has formed on that side as well. Transfer the lamb to a plate.
- Add the garlic and onions. Fry until the onions are wilted and turning brown at the edges. Add the lamb back in along with the pomegranate molasses and chicken stock. Drain the chickpeas and add those in as well.
- Find a non-reactive (glass or stainless steel) lid that fits inside your pot, the idea is to allow steam to escape, so you want the meat covered, but there should be gaps around the lid. Cover the meat with the lid and stick the pot in the oven. Braise until the meat is very tender and the chickpeas are cooked (about 3 to 4 hours). Be sure to check it periodically and add water if the pot starts looking too dry.
- When it’s done, remove the meat from the pot and shred it into medium chunks. If there’s a bunch of liquid left, let it reduce on the stove until it forms a nice thick sauce. Add the meat back in and stir to combine.
Yield: 4 servings
Marc Matsumoto is a culinary consultant and recipe repairman who shares his passion for good food through his website norecipes.com. For Marc, food is a life long journey of exploration, discovery and experimentation and he shares his escapades through his blog in the hopes that he inspires others to find their own culinary adventures. Marc’s been featured in the New York Times, Wall Street Journal, and USA Today, and has made multiple appearances on NPR and the Food Network.