Monday, March 26, 2012

braised lamb shoulder blade chops + parsnip potato mash

By Julie

I supposed I could blame my lack of gusto for producing this post in a timely fashion for St. Patrick's Day on the glorious bout of 70+ degree weather we've been having. Burgers and guacamole and grilled veggies have been more on my mind than root vegetables and braises more suitable for brisk 40s-50s spring-ish weather. So maybe just bookmark this for next year's celebration. Oh wait, and the corned beef recipe I have coming up too. Dammit. Maybe you'll just have to pretend you're Irish just a little bit longer. Keep that Erin Go Braughless shirt out for another go around.
I took care of a dog. I have a nascent interest in possibly wanting to want a dog. I thought maybe babysitting one for a day would help me want to want one more. I think I really just want a dog to be a cat that I can take with me on a run and go backpacking with. Or, what I want is a mountain lion that wants to bite me less. Even though I'm pretty convinced all dogs want to bite me just as much as a mountain lion. I think my muscles didn't relax all day of dogbabysitting. Gotta prepare yourself for that inevitable chomp. Why hasn't anyone worked on breeding a cat that loves you like a dog, is as big as a dog, and that likes to obey you like a dog? But that still looks like a cat (because duh, they're way cuter), purrs like a cat, doesn't wag its tail like an idiot, and does all those cut little rubby things that cats do? Bleh. Maybe it's just like babies - like they're alright and pretty cute and stuff, but you don't ever like someone else's baby like you'd like your own. So what I need to do is get a little puppy and then next thing I'll know is that I have a big dog and that I love it because I've hardly noticed it transitioning from a lovable cat-sized creature to a big horrible, slobbery, biting, terrifying monster.
On April 11th, 2012, I will become a juror. I can't even tell you how excited I am for this. I'm going to be the best juror. And probably the meanest. Or the nicest, depending, I guess. I'm not going to care much about some drug charge. But WATCH OUT if you're some disgusting rapist or you broke into somebody's house or a whole bunch of other things YOU'LL BE GUILTY GUILTY GUILTY. So sorry about your troubled childhood. So, so sorry you were bullied in school. Oh, and terribly sorry that your family didn't have enough money to buy you Super Nintendo when you were 8. GUILTY.
And I would also like to commit to jail the drunken revelers on St. Patrick's Day. I hate them. And these are the people that I'm going to be sitting on a jury with. God help America. But if you're a good person, and not a waste of space that hoots and hollers at me out of your car window at 1 in the afternoon while decked out in green beads and those glittery green leprechaun hats and most certainly should not be driving, you can enjoy a regional celebration by making this lovely little Irish meal. I don't even remember or really care, I guess, what St. Patrick's Day is about. Kinda like Oktoberfest. Whatever, I just like excuses to make regionally and seasonally appropriate food. I also had grand plans of making a bunch of Jewish food for Purim, even though I have no clue what that is. I still have Passover coming up, so that's a possibility. I have this Moosewood cookbook that has grand feasts for all sorts of ethnic celebrations and I have it in my head that one year I'll follow it through a full calendar year. I'd change some of it up a bit - basically adding in meat to make most of them more authentic, unless it's some Buddhist celebration which I bet is in there. I could also host a dinner party for each one. This is sounding exciting.
But back to this recipe. If you can't find lamb shoulder blade chops, you can substitute another cut that benefits from a braise - like a shank. The shoulder blade chop is boney and connective tissue-y, hence really needing a braise. The original recipe called for straining the braising liquid and discarding the vegetable solids. Overall, the original recipe was very fussy. I've made it much more simple, and thus more rustic, which I generally appreciate more. This is easily scalable - I only made two chops since I found them on super sale and they were the reason I made this recipe. But you can of course make more and just scale the vegetables accordingly. The vegetable ratio is also something you can play with, depending on what you like. Same goes with the mash. If you want it a little sweeter, use more parsnips.

lamb shoulder chops
adapted from Cathal Armstrong, serves 6

6 lamb shoulder chops, trimmed of excess fat if desired
coarse sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
2-4 tablespoons olive oil/bacon fat
cloves from 2 heads of garlic, pressed or minced
5 medium carrots, peeled and roughly chopped
4 medium celery stalks, roughly chopped
1 medium onion, roughly chopped
5 sprigs fresh rosemary
8 sprigs fresh thyme, or 4 teaspoons dried
3 dried bay leaves
3-4 cups lamb or beef stock, just enough to cover the lamb

1. Preheat oven to 275 degrees.

2. Heat 1 tablespoon olive oil in a cast iron pan over high heat. Generously season lamb with salt and pepper and place in the pan, working in batches and adding oil each time. Brown for about 3 minutes per side. Transfer to your roasting pan or Pyrex.

3. Add the rest of the ingredients to the roasting pan. Tightly cover with foil and place in the oven. Roast for 2 1/2 hours.

4. Remove the lamb from the roasting pan and cover with the foil. Place the roasting pan on a burner on high heat (or span two if you're using a large roasting pan) and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to medium and simmer until the liquid is reduced and thick. You could also transfer the liquid and veggies to a sauce pan and boil in that. Adjust and seasonings and remove the herbs (of course, don't bother if you used dried thyme).

parsnip potato mash
3 medium russet potatoes, peeled, cut into 1 1/2 inch pieces
3 medium parsnips, peeled, cut into 1 inch pieces
1 garlic clove, pressed or minced
2 green onions, divided, thinly sliced
sea salt
2 tablespoons salted grass-fed butter (obviously I mean Kerrygold...)
2 tablespoons parsley leaves, finely chopped

1. Place potatoes, parsnips, garlic, and 1 green onion in a saucepan and cover by 1 inch with cold salted water. Bring to a boil over high heat, then reduce heat to keep it at a light boil for about 25 minutes, or until tender.

2. Drain the veggies, reserving the liquid. Add about 1/4 - 1/2 cup reserved liquid and mash, adding more liquid to make it creamier if you want. Add in butter and mash around more to mix. Stir in the parsley and top with the second green onion.

Serve the lamb with a big spoonful of the vegetables and braising liquid. And of course a big lump of the mashies.

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