If you have a stocked pantry and meat in the freezer, then making a dinner like this one requires no thinking or trip to the supermarket. I use fresh herbs in my food as much as possible, however I do keep a few dried varieties on hand for those moments when the cupboard is bare or when I want the intensity that is characteristic of certain dried herbs. My favorite is a mixture called Herbes de Provence and one tablespoon can make a big impact.
Herbes de Provence is a combination of thyme, marjoram, rosemary, basil, fennel, sage and lavender. I think that lavender is one of the key ingredients and gives dishes like the one I made last night a beautiful perfume-y quality that goes so well with strong flavors like lamb.
So if shelf space is meagre in your kitchen, or you are like me and don’t like spending money on a ton of dried herbs that more often than not don’t get used up before they have lost their aroma, stick with the all-in-one Herbes de Provence. It is great in stews, grilled meat, fish and vegetables.
You will need:
2 -3 tbs olive oil
sea-salt & freshly ground black pepper
6 lamb shoulder loin chops (about 1 lb each)
2 sweet onions, large dice, or 1/2 moon slices
2 ribs celery, including leaves, sliced
2 carrots, peeled & sliced
4 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
1 cup tomato puree
6 cups veggie or chicken stock OR 1 good quality bouillon cube & water
1 tbs Herbes de Provence
Preheat oven 400*
1 – Generously season the lamb with sea-salt and freshly ground black pepper. Put large saute pan on high heat and add 2 tbs of olive oil. When it is very hot, add the chops in an even layer (you will probably need to do this in 2 or 3 batches depending on the size of your pan). Cook on each side until browned, adding more oil as needed. Remove to a heavy casserole or dutch oven.
2 – Turn heat down to medium and add all of the veggies, as well as the Herbes de Provence. Cook for about 5 minutes, stirring occasionally.
3 – Add the tomato pure and mix well.
4 – Add the stock, or bouillon and water, and turn heat up to high. Bring to a boil.
5 – Add the chops and place in the oven checking after 1 1/4 hours. If the chops are very tender, remove from the oven. If not, return to the oven for another 15 minutes or until done. Let the pan rest for 10 minutes before serving.
Serve with whatever you like: rice, mashed potatoes, sautéed greens, salad, bread or pasta.