The picture of this dish says it all. Just looking at it makes me want to run to the butcher shop for some luscious Irish lamb chops! I may be bias, but at this moment I have to announce that there is absolutely no better lamb in the world.
I took a train trip yesterday and while gazing out the window I passed fields and fields of grazing sheep and lambs. They can be seen everywhere munching down on the famous green grass in Ireland.
I grew up eating the best lamb stew in the world and only realized that fact when I moved away and could not find lamb that equalled it anywhere.
The cut of lamb that I prefer for lamb stew is the gigot chop, and if you can find them, you are on your way to making something fabulous.
What is a Gigot Chop?: It is a chop cut from the leg of an animal (I usually think of lamb but gigot pork is also a common cut). This chop has a small bone in the center helping provide a wonderful sweet flavor to a dish like a stew or any type of slow braise.
If you cannot find gigot chops, a good alternative is a cut from the shoulder.
You will need:
3 tbs extra-virgin or regular olive oil
4 to 6 lamb Gigot chops (if they are large, use 4. If you cannot find gigot chops, use a cut from the shoulder)
coarse sea-salt or kosher salt to season chops (about 2 tsp)
Several grinds of black pepper (optional)
10 small onions, halved
4 medium carrots, cut into thick diagonal slices
4 medium potatoes, washed & quartered
2 parsnips, peeled & thickly sliced
3 or 4 small/medium potatoes, cut into 4 wedges each (I used golden or yellow potatoes as they have a nice creamy sweetness and hold up well to long cooking)
3 sprigs fresh rosemary
2 tbs all-purpose flour
2 tsps coarse sea-salt (I use Maldon sea-salt flakes)
several grinds black pepper (optional)
1 cup white wine
4 cups veggie or chicken broth (or 1 good quality bouillon cube & water)
Preheat oven 450*
1 – Season the chops with salt (and freshly ground pepper if you like), and sear in large saute pan on high heat in olive oil. Make sure to cook in one layer at a time, adding olive oil as you need it. Transfer to plate as you go and set aside.
2 – Turn heat down to medium and add the onions and rosemary and cook for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally.
3 – Add carrots and parsnips and continue to saute for another 5 or so minutes, letting them take on a little brown color. Add the flour and stir into veggies. Cook for about 1 minute, stirring constantly.
4 – Add the wine and stir to a thick paste, then add the broth (or water & bouillon). Turn heat up to high and stir everything together. Let the liquid come to a boil. When it bubbles, turn heat off. Taste the broth and add salt and pepper if it needs it (until you are satisfied)
5 – Add the chops in an even layer (meat will certainly overlap slightly). Next scatter the quartered potatoes on top of the lamb. Cover with a lid.
6 – Place in preheated oven and cook undisturbed for 1 1/4 hours. Remove from oven and leave to cool down and settle for 10 minutes.
Divide chops between six plates or shallow bowls and top with lots of vegetables and broth. You can also serve with other things such as rice, pasta noodles, bread or some greens (either cooked such as wilted spinach or a salad of field greens)