Mediterranean Braised Lamb Shoulder Chops
on Oct 22, 2023, Updated Jan 14, 2024
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These slowly cooked Mediterranian-style lamb chops are fall apart tender and nestled into a lovely vegetable-studded red wine and tomato sauce.
This is one of those cold-weather meals that makes you feel ok about cold weather. The smell of the lamb shoulder chops braising is such a beautiful prelude to the experience of eating this rich, fall-apart meat nestled in a saucy blend of vegetables. But be warned: this has to be cooked low and slow. The cooking time cannot be rushed, no matter how amazing this smells.
This braised lamb chop recipe features tomatoes, red wine, rosemary, thyme, and garlic. The sauce that is created by the slow braise begs to be ladled over the tender meat atop a pile of mashed potatoes, noodles (egg noodles are particularly great), polenta, or maybe a rice pilaf of sorts. So be sure and make those or some sort of starch to soak up the sauce.
It may seem unusual that the zucchini is braised for so long with the meat in the cooking liquid, but it’s more than fine. It definitely gets quite soft, but it fills out the sauce nicely, kind of thickening it. And along with the mushrooms, it removes the need for making a separate vegetable, which is always a nice thing. This whole recipe is made in one skillet, adding to the appeal. If you wanted to round out the meal, you could add Best Parmesan Roasted Broccoli or a Crispy Brussels Sprouts Salad.
Table of Contents
Mediterranean Braised Lamb Shoulder Chops: Slow cooking makes these shoulder chops fall apart tender, and the vegetable studded sauce is incredibly flavorful.Tweet This
- Olive oil
- Minced garlic
- Lamb shoulder chops – About 1 inch thick.
- Mushrooms – You can use any mushroom you like, such as button, cremini, or shiitake.
- Zucchini or summer squash
- Dried thyme and rosemary – Dried herbs are just fine in a slow-braised dish like this.
- Red wine – Choose a wine you’d like to drink with the dish! If you want to sub in more tomatoes or chicken or beef broth for the wine, you can.
- Tomato sauce or pureed tomatoes
- Water or chicken broth
- Chopped fresh parsley – adds color and a nice burst of herby-ness.
Lamb shoulder chops can also be called arm or blade chops. Shoulder chops are bigger than rib or loin lamb chops. Rib chops are usually significantly more expensive and should be cooked quickly and kept rare. Shoulder chops have more fat and connective tissues, so they are tougher than other lamb chop cuts. Braising them is a terrific cooking method to ensure tender, deeply flavorful chops.
Lamb shoulder chops are versatile in that they can be cooked quickly or slowly, both with delicious results. They are quite economical – usually significantly less expensive than rib chops, but from a nearby cut.
Lamb shoulder chops can be tough, so they are best either braised or cooked very low and slow or else quickly cooked over high heat. It’s the in-between cooking methods that aren’t so good for shoulder chops. Cooking them like more tender cuts of meat will result in tough chops. In a braised lamb shoulder chop recipe like this, they will become fall-apart tender.
How Long to Cook Lamb Shoulder Chops
Sear up the chops, which is recommended for the best flavor and outer texture. You will want to cover the pan, then lower the heat to medium-low, and let everything simmer for about 2 hours. You’ll know the chops are done when they are very, very tender, with the meat practically falling off the bone.
- I have also made the same meal with sweet potatoes in place of the zucchini and mushrooms, and it’s another delicious version. My whole family went crazy for these chops in both versions. I know I’ll keep going with this recipe, swapping in vegetables as they occur to me and as they show up in the market.
- This is a stovetop slow-braised recipe, but you could also transfer it to a 300-degree oven for the 2-hour cooking period if you prefer to finish braising it in the oven and free up your range.
How to Make Mediterranean Braised Lamb Shoulder Chops
- Sauté the vegetable base: In a large skillet, sauté the onion, carrots, and garlic in olive oil until everything is tender and starting to brown, about 7 minutes.
- Sear the chops: In the same pan, sear the chops for about 4 minutes on each side until the chops are browned.
- Sauté the rest of the vegetables: Cook the mushrooms, zucchini, thyme, and rosemary until the vegetables become tender and golden, about 7 minutes.
- Stir in the carrot and onion mixture.
- Deglaze the pan: Add the red wine and stir to release any browned bits from the bottom. Stir in the tomato sauce.
- Finish cooking the chops: Tuck the browned chops into the mixture. Cover the pan, and simmer, covered, for 2 hours, until the meat is very, very tender.
- Serve: Sprinkle with parsley. Serve with the pan sauce and vegetables.
- Don’t forget the parsley at the end. This kind of slow-braised dish really benefits from a last pop of fresh green.
- One of the other little tricks I do often is to finish a dish with some chopped arugula. It serves the same purpose as parsley or another herb but adds a peppery punch that I think is very welcome as a counterbalance to a rich dish.
What to Serve With Lamb Shoulder Chops
More Lamb Recipes to Try
- Make Your Own Lamb Gyro Board
- Lamb Chorba
- Orange-Thyme Rack of Lamb Chops
- Grilled Lamb Chops and Onions with Herb Salad
- Lemon-Garlic Semi-Boneless Leg of Lamb
- Grilled Rib Lamb Chops
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Mediterranean-Braised Lamb Shoulder Chops
- 3 tablespoons olive oil (divided)
- 1 medium onion (roughly chopped)
- 4 large carrots (roughly chopped)
- 3 large garlic cloves (minced)
- Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper (to taste)
- 2 1 -inch thick lamb shoulder chops (about 2 pounds total)
- 2 cups sliced mushrooms (such as button, cremini, or shiitake)
- 1 cup diced zucchini or summer squash
- ½ teaspoon dried thyme
- 2 teaspoons dried rosemary (crushed)
- 1 cup red wine
- ½ cup tomato sauce or pureed tomatoes
- Water or chicken broth (as needed)
- ¼ cup chopped fresh parsley
- In a large skillet, preferably cast-iron, heat 1 tablespoon of the olive oil over medium-high heat. Add the onion, carrots, and garlic, and season with salt and pepper. Sauté until everything is tender and starting to brown, about 5 minutes. Scrape the mixture into a small bowl.
- Season the lamb with salt and pepper on both sides. Give the skillet a quick wipe with a paper towel (be careful; that skillet is hot!), and return the skillet to the heat. Add 1 more tablespoon of olive oil, make sure the pan is very hot, then add the chops and sear for about 4 minutes on each side until the chops are browned on both sides. Transfer the chops to a plate.
- Add the remaining tablespoon of olive oil to the pan, and then the mushrooms, zucchini, thyme, and rosemary. Sauté until the mushrooms give up their liquid, that liquid evaporates, and the vegetables become tender and slightly golden, about 7 minutes.
- Stir in the carrot and onion mixture. Add the red wine, stir to release any brown bits from the bottom, and let it reduce by a little bit, about 2 minutes, then stir in the tomato sauce and tuck the browned chops into the mixture. Cover the pan, lower the heat to medium-low, and let the liquid very gently simmer for 2 hours, until the meat is very, very tender, almost falling apart. Check periodically to make sure there is still liquid in the skillet, and add a bit of water or broth if necessary.
- Sprinkle the finished dish with the parsley. Serve the lamb chops with the pan sauce over your choice of starch.