Monday, October 21, 2013

Braised Lamb Shoulder Chops with Cheesy Polenta

I love lamb.  I know it's not for everyone but I really love it.  It has such a unique and wonderful flavor.  That being said, I don't eat it very often because it isn't really in my budget.  Enter the savior of our dinner, the lamb shoulder chop.  This cut is significantly less expensive than the more common rib chop (even more so when it was on sale at Sprouts).  As soon as I saw them in the ad I knew they needed to find their way onto my dinner table.

I had never made lamb shoulder chops so to google I went.  After perusing a few different recipes, I settled on one from Williams-Sonoma.  It had the flavor profiles I was looking for, so I just made a few tweaks and we were on our way to a delicious dinner.

Start out by salting and peppering your chops.  Meanwhile heat some olive oil in a large saute pan (one with a lid).  When the oil is hot, sear your chops for about 2 1/2 to 3 minutes per side.  Then take out the chops and turn down the heat on your pan.

Add in some chopped shallots and cook for about 5 minutes or until they are soft, then add in some garlic and fresh, chopped rosemary.  Saute for a minute and enjoy the tantalizing smell wafting up toward you.  Stir in some red wine, scraping up any browned bits from the bottom.  Simmer for a couple of minutes, until it is reduced by half.

Then add in some canned San Marzano tomatoes (crushed would be best but I only had whole so I cut them up with my kitchen shears first), stir everything together, and put the lamb chops back in the pan.  Cover and simmer for about an hour and a half, flipping the lamb chops half way through.

Now to me, that braising liquid is like liquid heaven so I decided to serve this with some cheesy polenta underneath.  It is the perfect canvas for absorbing all of the yummy sauce.

About 30 minutes before you are ready to eat, start your polenta.  I know that the package says to stir it continuously, but that just isn't necessary.  Polenta is super easy and versatile.  If you have never made it before, try it, you'll be glad you did.

Now that I've convinced you, here's how to do it.  Boil 3 cups of water and add in some salt.  Then stir in a cup of polenta (not quick cook) turning the heat down to low.   It tends to splatter a bit at first so be careful.  Continue to cook for about 20 minutes stirring occasionally. 

When you are ready to eat, remove the lamb chops, turn up the heat, and simmer the sauce for a few minutes until it is slightly thickened.

While the sauce is doing it's final thickening, stir in some butter and fat free greek yogurt to your polenta.  Once it is combined and the butter is melted stir in some cheese, I used Trader Joe's quattro formaggio.

Put a good sized pile of polenta on your plate.  Top it with a lamb chop and then spoon on some a ton of the reduced braising liquid.  Enjoy!  I know this isn't the most beautiful plate of food, but the taste more than makes up for it's humble looks.

It was really too hot outside for such a warm-you-up-from-the-inside-out meal but once I got it in my head, I had to have it.  Despite the heat, there were no complaints and 3 cleaned plates at my table so I guess the yum factor made up for the fact that it wasn't weather appropriate.  For those of you lucky enough to live somewhere that it actually feels like fall, make this tonight.  Even if you are somewhere that is still hot like me, you should still make it.  You will be glad you did.

Red Wine and Tomato Braised Lamb Shoulder Chops 
with Cheesy Polenta
Adapted from Williams-Sonoma Braised Lamb Shoulder Chops

For lamb:
  • 2 tbls. olive oil
  • 3 to 4 lamb shoulder chops
  • 3 cloves garlic 
  • 2 tbls. chopped shallots
  • 1 1/2 tbls. chopped fresh rosemary
  • 1/2 cup red wine
  • 28 oz. can crushed San Marzano tomatoes 
For polenta:
  • 3 cups water
  • salt
  • 1 cup polenta
  • 1/4 cup fat free Greek yogurt
  • 2 tbls. butter
  • 1/2 cup Quattro Formaggio
  1. Salt and pepper both sides of the lamb chops.  
  2. Heat the olive oil over medium-high heat.  Then sear lamb chops for about 2 1/2 to 3 minutes per side.
  3. Remove lamb chops and set aside.  Turn heat down to low and saute shallots until soft, about 5 minutes.  Then add in garlic and rosemary sauteing for another minute.
  4. Add in red wine, scraping up any browned bits, and simmer until reduced by half.
  5. Stir in the tomatoes and then put the lamb chops back in the pan.
  6. Cover and simmer for about 1 1/2 hours, flipping the lamb chops half way through.
  7. 30 minutes before you are ready to serve, bring 3 cups of salted water to a boil in a medium saucepan.
  8. Stir in the polenta and turn heat down to low.  Simmer for about 20 minutes, stirring every 5 minutes or so.
  9. When ready to serve remove the chops, turn heat to high, and reduce braising liquid until thickened to desired consistency. 
  10. Stir butter and Greek yogurt into polenta.  When butter is melted, stir in cheese.
  11. Serve lamb chops over polenta with a generous amount of braising liquid on top.    
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