The best thing about cold weather is cranking up the oven and making rich and hearty dishes, like braised meats. In this recipe from Houston chef Chris Shepherd's new restaurant, One Fifth, he cooks lamb necks in red wine until tender before stirring in olives and cherry tomatoes for a warm and comforting winter dish that will disappear faster than melting snow.
Think of lamb neck as a mini oxtail: Once braised, the meat just falls of the bone. Not only is this a delicious off-cut, but it's an inexpensive option, making it a great alternative to beef short ribs or lamb shoulder for a dinner party menu.
To learn more, read "Lone Star Plate."
Red Wine-Braised Lamb Neck
Recipe adapted from Chris Shepherd, One Fifth, Houston, TX
Yield: 4 to 6 servings
Prep Time: 25 minutes, plus cooling time
Cook Time: 3 hours and 35 minutes
Total Time: 4 hours, plus cooling time
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
3 pounds lamb neck, cut into 2-inch pieces (22 pieces)
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
4 celery stalks, roughly chopped
2 carrots, roughly chopped
1 yellow onion, roughly chopped
2 garlic cloves
½ cup tomato paste
4 cups chicken stock
One 750-milliliter bottle red wine
5 thyme sprigs
2 plum tomatoes, roughly chopped
6 small shallots, peeled
⅓ cup cherry tomatoes
⅓ cup pitted kalamata olives
1. Preheat the oven to 350°. In a 6-quart Dutch oven, heat the oil and butter over medium-high heat. Season the lamb neck pieces liberally with salt and pepper. Sear, turning as needed, until golden brown, 8 to 10 minutes, then transfer to a plate.
2. Add the celery, carrots and onion to the pot, and cook, stirring as needed, until golden, 8 to 10 minutes. Reduce the heat to medium and add the garlic. Cook until fragrant, 2 minutes, then add the tomato paste and cook until caramelized, 5 minutes more.
3. Deglaze the pot with the chicken stock and red wine. Bring to a simmer, then add the seared lamb, thyme and plum tomatoes. Return to a simmer, then cover and place in the oven. Cook for 2½ hours, then remove the lid and stir in the shallots. Continue cooking for 30 minutes more.
4. Remove the pot from the oven and transfer the lamb and shallots to a bowl. Strain the cooking liquid, discarding the vegetable solids, then return it to the pot, along with the cooked lamb and shallots, cherry tomatoes and olives. Season with salt and pepper, then serve.