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Posted 3/7/2008 10:56am by Catskill Merino.
The most misunderstood cut of lamb, as far as the cooking of it goes, is the shoulder.  Over the years, I have had several complaints about lamb from the shoulder as being tough & sinewy.  These complaints were from folk who roasted* the shoulder like a leg of lamb, rather than braising it like a lamb shank, as they could have.
“Braising is a moist heat cooking method where lamb cuts are browned and cooked in a small amount of liquid. The liquid produces steam which helps tenderize the meat. Thus, this method of cooking is perfect for both small and large less tender cuts of lamb such as neck slices, shoulder cuts, riblets, breasts and shanks. A wide variety of lamb dishes may be braised.
To braise, heat a small amount of oil, fat or butter in a heavy frying pan and brown lamb on all sides. (The lamb may be first dusted with seasoned flour.) Pour off drippings and season as desired. Add a small amount of liquid such as water, vegetable juice or soup and vegetables. Cover pan tightly and cook at low temperature until tender. A sauce or gravy can be made from the cooking liquid.”

Timetable for Braising Lamb

Lamb Cut

Weight or Size

Approximate Cooking Time

Neck Slices

1-3/4 pounds ¾ inch thick

1 to 1-1/2hour

Shoulder Chops, Round Bone or Blade

1-3/4 pounds 1 inch thick

1 to 1-1/4 hour

Breast, Stuffed (Bone-in)

2 to 3 pounds

1-1/2 to 2 hours


3 pounds

1-1/2 to 2 hours


3 pounds

1_to 1-1/2 hours

Stew Cubes

1-1/4 pounds 1 inch pieces

1-1/4 to 1-1/2 hours

Breast, Rolled

1-1/2 to 2 pounds

1-1/2 to 2 hours

Courtesy of the American Lamb Board

Searching for "Braised Lamb Shoulder" will lead you to some interesting and surprisingly simple recipes.

*The shoulder can be roasted, but it should be marinated first and basted to help tenderize it


Posted 2/7/2008 5:07pm by Catskill Merino.



The recipe below is typical of the great recipes from Larousse Gastronomique, anecdotal and non specific as to measures of volume, time and temperature. A recipe should be an idea to cook with rather than a procedural to follow and cook from. A good recipe will allow the creativity of the cook to be its primary ingredient.

The loose and lovely old style of Larousse shall guide us in our accumulation of recipes; and many of these gastronomical anecdotes will come from you my dear lamb cooks to be gathered up in the Food Flock.

 Agnelet à la Kurde

"This recipe was given to us by Roland Dorgelès, the author of Les Croix de Bois and it is rather an original one.

'On the banks of Euphrates, where I lived among camel drivers and Bedouin, I discovered a dish which I did not know…Take a small milk-fed lamb, one of those little lambs which the nomad shepherds carry about like babies. You clean it out, season the inside and stuff with a forcemeat made from its liver, heart and lungs. You mix this forcemeat generously with rice half-cooked with fat, in which you have incorporated dry, not sweet, apricots which have been cooked in the gravy. Then you serve it with the gravy from which the fat has been skimmed off.'

No doubt the addition of apricots to this dish may appear a little eccentric to certain gastronomical purists (and you may count me as one) but let us not forget that many people relish venison with red currant jelly."

Prosper Montagné, editor Larousse Gastronomique 1938