Saturday Lamb Shoulder Stew

I had originally planned a Szechuan stewed lamb for tonight's dinner, but I think the family was ready to move on from Chinese.  However, with lamb already in the fridge, a plan b had to be formulated.  First of all, let's talk about the lamb and my love for Uwajimaya.  I have been a loyal customer for years and years, but I am finding myself there a couple of times a week now.  I've never had anything but top quality seafood from them, and their meat selection is a great combination of cuts used for Asian cooking and that used for Western cooking.  They are carrying specialty meats like American Kobe beef, Berkshire Kurobuta pork, Thundering Hooves grass fed beef and Smart Chicken organic chicken.  For my lamb, I consulted with the butcher on what cut best to use, and shoulder was the way to go.  He de-boned and cut the lamb for me into stew sized pieces.  Wonderful customer service.  There are many top quality butchers in town, but the ones that become favorites are because of the relationships you develop.

This being my first lamb stew, (can that be right?), I am approaching it from a perspective of beef bourguignon and braised lamb shank which I've done many times in the past.

3 lbs boneless lamb shoulder, cut into 2" x 2" pieces
salt and pepper
3 tbsp of vegetable or olive oil
1 medium onion, roughly chopped
4 shallots, sliced
2 tbsp chopped fresh rosemary
1 tbsp tomato paste
3 cups red wine
2 1/2 cups beef broth
2 bay leaves

Dry lamb on paper towels.  Salt and pepper and coat with flour shaking off any excess.  Heat 3 tbsp of oil in a large dutch oven or braising pot.  Brown lamb in batches, don't over crowd the pan.  Add more oil if necessary.  Remove and set aside browned lamb as you work.  
When all lamb has been browned, remove all but 1 tbsp of oil and add in the onions and shallots.  Saute until softened.  Add in the rosemary and tomato paste.  Stir to combine.  
Deglaze the pan with half the wine.  Make sure you scrape up all the browned bits from the bottom of the pan.  Add remaining wine, beef broth and bay leaves.  Bring to a boil.  Remove any foam that accumulates at the top, then add the lamb along with any accumulated juices.  
Cover and simmer over low heat for about 2 hours, stirring periodically.  To thicken the sauce, uncover and let boil rapidly for about 10-15 minutes.  
Lamb shoulder was definitely the right cut to use.  Even the girls loved it, and they are not big fans of lamb.  Serve with a crusty loaf of bread to soak up the fabulous sauce.  Mmmm... good!

Oh, and happy to report, no adverse side effects from last night's duck!


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