Mediterranean Braised Lamb Shoulder Chops

I am having a love-hate moment with global warming right now.  I mean, obviously, global warming, bad.  Very bad.  But wearing short sleeves and sandals in October in New York City with the sun warming your skin is just so NICE.  But global warming, bad.

(Note to reader – this was written during the Obama presidency, when at least global warming was being addresses as, you know, a real thing in the world.  Now the thought of global warming is attached to a whole other level of concern).

Mediterranean Braised Lamb Shoulder Chops

And it just feels weird.  Also in the feels-weird category is what we all feel like cooking as late October approaches.  In my Northeast corner of the world, we should all be roasting and braising and stewing things.  Which feels odd in 80 degree weather.

But enough is enough, and I am ready for fall cooking, even if I am still putting on sunblock to go see my kid’s football game on Saturday.

Mediterranean Braised Lamb Shoulder Chops

How to Cook Lamb Shoulder Chops

Lamb shoulder chops can also be called arm or blade chops.  They 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. 

If you are cooking them in a fast recipe, keep an eye on them, as because they are thin they will cook quickly.  But then, in a braised lamb shoulder chop recipe like this, they will go from tough to call apart tender over that time.  If you want to read up a bit on braising, come over here!

The seasonings here are classic Mediterranean flavors, tomatoes, red wine, rosemary, thyme garlic….and the sauce that is created by the slow braise begs to be ladled over the tender meat atop a pile of mashed potatoes, or noodles, or maybe a rice pilaf of sorts.  So be sure and make those, or some sort of starch to soak up the sauce.

Mediterranean Braised Lamb Shoulder Chops

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.  Whatever the weather.  This whole thing is made in one skillet, which adds to the appeal.

I have also made the same meal with sweet potatoes in place of the zucchini and mushrooms in the actual winter weather, 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.

Mediterranean Braised Lamb Shoulder Chops

Braising in the Oven

This is a stovetop slow braised recipe, but you could also transfer it to a 300°F oven for the two hour cooking period, if you prefer to finishing braising it in the oven, and free up your range.  Also, I haven’t tried this with a slow cooker, but I’m betting it would be fabulous.  If you had to, you could maybe even skip the searing step for ease of execution (but don’t if you can help it).  

Don’t forget the parsley at the end.  This kind of slow braised dish really benefits for a last pop of fresh green.  One of the other little tricks I do often is to finish a dish with some chopped arugula, which 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.

These slowly cooked lamb chops are fall apart tender. Cold weather, we’re ready for you.

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Mediterranean Braised Lamb Shoulder Chops

These slowly cooked lamb chops are fall apart tender. Cold weather, we're ready for you.
Yield: 4 People
Prep Time 20 minutes
Cook Time 2 hours 30 minutes
Total Time 2 hours 50 minutes


  • 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, 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 with a lid, preferably cast iron, heat 1 tablespoon of the olive oil over medium high heat.  Add the onion, carrots, and garlic, season with salt and pepper, and sauté until everything is tender and starting to brown, about 7 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 towl (be careful; that skillet is hot!), and return the skillet to the heat. Add 1 more tablespoon 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, and 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 and browned bit 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.

Nutrition Information

Calories: 588kcal | Carbohydrates: 15g | Protein: 59g | Fat: 27g | Saturated Fat: 8g | Cholesterol: 172mg | Sodium: 347mg | Potassium: 1391mg | Fiber: 4g | Sugar: 8g | Vitamin A: 10701IU | Vitamin C: 20mg | Calcium: 76mg | Iron: 7mg

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  1. This recipe is out of control amazing! It is so good I can’t even explain it! My boyfriend was so impressed and I cook and cook good and a lot but your recipe took me to another level. Thanks for sharing.

  2. I’m wondering if I can adapt to use this recipe for leg of lamb?
    The flavor was incredible but I don’t have chops right now.

  3. Thank you so much for this! I have a lot of mediterranean/jewish cookbooks but have no lamb recipe this flavorful. I added turmeric to this recipe and used tomato paste instead of sauce, it worked great.

  4. This is the second time I am making this recipe, my husband liked it so much he asked for it. As this type of lamb is pretty affordable it is great to have a good recipe. I can’t eat onions and garlic, so I used garlic olive oil in place of olive oil. I can’t eat mushrooms so we used the sweet potato variation. The rest was the same. Here, lamb shoulder shops are thinner, so we used two huge thinner ones and they did not have to cook as long. With potatoes and a green leafy vegetable this is a delicious dish. It might even please non lamb eaters. Thanks for the great recipe.

  5. Have you tried this with winter squash or pumpkin, since you mentioned you’ve done it with sweet potatoes? How key is the tomato or acidity to the final dish?

    I love lamb but if I can sub lemon for tomato, I will do so to reduce FODMAPs.

    1. I’m sure lemon would be nice, but won’t replace the bulk that the tomatoes add. And yes I’m sure you could use squash in place of the potatoes, and that would be fine. I’m no expert on the FODMAP diet, but I think you should play and modify and hopefully come up with your own great braised lamb shoulder shop dish!

    1. well, this blog is definitely about food, but it also includes pieces of my life and my opinions — I’m sorry if this little statement offended you.

  6. This is a classic recipe, and your proportions are excellent. My small tweak was to caramelize red onions at the front end, with a pinch of sugar and salt, then add the carrots and garlic. I used two cups of diced zucchini because that’s in season at the moment. And as a nod to Lidia Bastianich, I added a pinch of red pepper flakes. Absolutely wonderful!

  7. Don’t have wine and don’t use to put alcohol on food but… even without that one ingredient, it was really lovely dish. Brilliant recipes and my daughter was eating fast with plain rice… we are Indonesian and pretty much have rice with everything.

  8. Global warming? It’s -25 degrees here in the great white north. Coldest winter in the midwest in years – in fact they say a generation. I’m not sure how that qualifies as warming. You had me willing to try this recipe until you turned it into a political jab. Which you didn’t have to. Recipe blogs should be a political free zone and a wonderful escape and inspiration for unordinary dinners. At least that is why I read them. I’ll stick to my tried and true recipe for lamb. Good luck to you.

  9. Another would-be reader turned off by the politics. Of course you are entitled to write whatever you want – it’s your blog. But a lot of people – from every point on the political spectrum – are just so sick and tired of politics infecting anything and everything. A food blog should be a safe escape from politics…

  10. The recipe looks tasty, but it’s tiring to see political junk inserted where political junk shouldn’t be inserted.

  11. I stopped by your site to see this lamb recipe, I will stay for the politics.
    Thanks for sharing your thoughts, oh and the recipes.

  12. Interesting recipe but was at first confused then turned off by your comments on climate so I chose another recipe that was posted without political opinions. Yes, the science of climate has been politicized.

  13. I’m sorry that people have not tried your recipe because of your seemingly political views. Personally, I don’t think that the climate should ever have become a political thing. While I may, and do, disagree that climate change is a result of, or can be changed, by human activity, it has nothing to do, IMHO, with food.

    That said, I can’t wait to try this which I will do on Monday. My butcher was selling the Lamb shoulder chops for a steal, and I bought some last week and froze them. Just have to pick up some red wine and fresh parsley. I like a nice cab for recipes calling for red wine.

    I just made a nice roasted veggie wellington, and have a lot of leftover phyllo dough, and thought I’d make a spanikopita side dish.

    I can’t wait to try this!

    Regarding the climate, can our politicians agree to disagree on the cause, and work together more to find how to deal with it, whether we can change it or not? How did our ancestors, prehistoric and otherwise, deal with the changing climate, which has gone on for the millennia?

    1. Joyce, thanks so much for writing — and I hope you like the lamb! Re: climate change and food and politics, I wish they didn’t feel so related so much of the time, but I think they are pretty intertwined. Having said that I respect other people’s right to have their opinions, and if my opinion means that some folks don’t want to make my lamb chops, well, I certainly won’t be offended. I hope yours come out gorgeously!

  14. I’m curious about translating this to a slow cooker recipe. If I seared the chops and then put everything else in the slow cooker, could I cook like a roast, 3-4 hrs on high or 6-8 on low? Thanks!

  15. Just tried the recipe – really good.

    And keep up with the comments on climate change. Politics is mostly opinion which shouldn’t be confused with scientific facts.

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