Monday, April 11, 2011

Lamb Chop Shoulders

There's a wine store right next to my job that does weekly wine and beer tastings. So every Friday at 5, some of us will head over there, try some nice drinks, and then go back to work. Well, that's not entirely true. I go grocery shopping and then home afterwards, but almost everyone else goes back to work.

I'm one of the only younger people at my office who comes in 'early.' Early being before nine. Many of them come in at nine or ten, some of them come in even later sometimes. I understand the appeal- why wake up earlier, you're doing the same number of hours, after all- but I like to be home, I guess. I like getting home before it's dark, (maybe) cooking dinner, and just sitting around. The past few days I've been consumed by Pokemon Black. Yes, yes, I know, I can't complain about people in my office coming in later and then talk about Pokemon in the same paragraph. This is why I don't consider myself an adult.

But back to the wine tasting.

I had no real love for wine at the start of my job. Even now I tend to like sweet dessert wines over dark, 'full-bodied' red wines. I don't love the bitterness, although I can like it. Almost a month ago, I bought an expensive bottle of red wine, because I liked it, and as we were tasting it the store owner told us that it would go well a fatty meat, such as lamb. And that got me thinking.

I've had lamb all of twice in my life, and I had certainly never cooked it. So of course I bought an expensive bottle of wine and then immediately went to the nearby Harris Teeter and started looking for lamb.

It actually took me a few weeks to settle on a recipe for it, and the first time I wanted to make it for my friends, I brought the wrong bottle of wine. I pulled it out of the bag I had brought it in, held it up to the light, and noticed that it was distinctly white. So with a sigh, we ordered pizza that night. I may have been the only one sighing that night, but I was quite upset about it. So the next Tuesday night, I subjected everyone to my little adventure.

This was one of the more expensive food adventures I've set out on. The wine and lamb were by far the most expensive parts, but we just didn't seem to have a well-stocked pantry this week so I had to buy a lot of parts for it. Some parts- like the fresh mint I bought only for this- ended up being a mistake because I left them in the fridge, only to be remembered hours after the food was gone. I don't even remember what we ended up doing with it, I just hope it wasn't completely wasted money.

We all thought the lamb smelled very nice as it was cooking, but...

I think this actually smelled the best. The wine smelled amazing, and with the veggies and the cooked lamb just sitting nearby, it was just... amazing. I can't even think of a more descriptive word. I wanted to eat it right then, but everyone was watching, so it wouldn't have been very subtle. And the lamb wasn't done cooking yet.

Sadly, my picture of the final plate was terrible. The flash went off, washing everything out, and I felt weird enough taking a bunch of pictures of people cooking with my friends. They didn't say anything, but I mumbled a few excuses about wanting to show Mama Bird. After the first picture didn't come out, I just decided I'd edit it and fix the lighting. But no, that picture is much too far gone for that.

Oh well. Imagine that, but sitting on a plate on a bed of pasta.

The pasta mixed incredibly well with the sauce, absorbing just a little, but enough to be delicious. I believe everyone enjoyed this, I know I did. However, I probably won't make it again- partially because it wasn't cheap, partially because it wasn't easy on the calories, partially because we also drained that bottle of wine, and partially because there are other ways to cook lamb I want to experiment with.

Braised Lamb Chop Shoulders from
(Makes 4 servings, with 793 calories and $7.58 per lamb chop)

  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 4 shoulder lamb chops
  • 1 large sweet onion
  • 3 medium carrots
  • 3 large celery ribs
  • 1/2 lemon
  • 1/2 cup red wine
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground pepper
  • 14 ounces tomatoes, diced
  • 1 tablespoon curry powder
  • 1 teaspoon cumin
  • 1 teaspoon coriander
  • 4 cloves garlic
  • 1 tablespoon soy sauce
  • 1/2 cup cold water
  • 1 tablespoon cornstarch
  • 3 -4 sprigs fresh mint, leaves removed and rolled up,cut in thin strips
    1. Trim excess fat from the chops.
    2. Heat oil and brown chops on both sides, roughly five minutes each side.
    3. Remove lamb from pan and set aside.
    4. Using the same oil, add quartered onion and saute.
    5. Add chopped carrots, celery, salt, pepper, and lemon slices.
    6. Saute about 15 to 20 minutes.
    7. Stir in wine, and bring to simmer.
    8. In separate bowl mix together tomato, curry powder, cumin, coriander, garlic, and soy sauce.
    9. Add tomato mixture to pan and stir.
    10. Return lamb chops to pan and cover with mixture.
    11. Bring to a boil, reduce heat, and simmer for an hour.
    12. Mix water and cornstarch. Stir into pan and bring to a boil, and let simmer until the sauce is thick.
    13. Serve and sprinkle with fresh mint.

    I've been up to a lot of cooking recently. I made cookies for a friend, black bean 'gloop,' JalapeƱo Cheddar cornbread, and even more cornbread in the form of muffins. I completely failed to take pictures of the cookies, but everything else will be showing up eventually. This week I'll (hopefully!) be making naan, possibly sugar cookies, and some slow-cooked chicken vindaloo. I also splurged (again...) and bought Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day because everyone in the cooking blogosphere seems to love it, and the idea of making my own bread intrigues me. True, I don't often eat sandwiches, but Mama Bird will when we have the meat, and... and I wanted the book. Sigh. Maybe I'll save money next month...

    Today's lessons learned:
    • De-glazing is the process of getting food off the bottom of the pan, not the burnt black stuff.
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