Braised and Grilled Spring Lamb

Braised and Grilled Spring Lamb

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There is a rural European tradition of eating milk-fed baby animals—the milk lambs of Spain’s La Mancha, for instance, and the suckling pigs of Sardinia—roasted crisp in a wood-burning oven and served with nothing more than a good green salad fragrant with olive oil, a few roasted potatoes, rustic country bread, and local wine. Although some may think this practce is cruel, the meat is extraordinarily lean, tender, and succulent. Our spring lamb is slightly larger than true milk lamb, but it has the same appeal, and each year we look forward to its brief appearance. We grill the chops and legs (a little past medium-rare is best for spring lamb), but braise the shoulders, warming them on the grill after they are cooked to add smoky flavor and crisp the skin.


Cooking Methodbraising, grilling


Total Timea day or more

Make Ahead RecipeYes

Kid FriendlyYes

One Pot MealYes

OccasionCasual Dinner Party

Recipe Coursemain course

Dietary Considerationegg-free, gluten-free, lactose-free, low carb, peanut free, soy free, tree nut free

Equipmentfood mill, grill

Five Ingredients or LessYes


Taste and Texturemeaty, savory, smoky


  • 1 spring lamb shoulder roast, bone in, about 3 pounds
  • Salt and pepper
  • 3 medium tomatoes
  • 1 medium onion, peeled
  • 1 carrot, peeled
  • 1 stalk celery
  • 1½ cups Basic Chicken Stock
  • ½ cup white wine
  • 5 garlic cloves, peeled
  • 3 sprigs thyme or marjoram
  • 5 peppercorns
  • 1 small dried red chili pepper
  • 8 spring lamb chops, about 1½ pounds


  1. 1 spring shoulder roast, bone in, about 3 pounds

  2. Salt and pepper

  3. 3 medium tomatoes

  4. 1 medium onion, peeled

  5. 1 carrot, peeled

  6. 1 stalk celery

  7. 1½ cups Basic Chicken Stock

  8. ½ cup white wine

  9. 5 garlic cloves, peeled

  10. 3 sprigs thyme or marjoram

  11. 5 peppercorns

  12. 1 small dried red chili pepper

    8 spring lambchops, about 1½ pounds

  13. Season the shoulder roast with salt and pepper and refrigerate for several hours or overnight.

  14. Preheat the oven to 400°F. Coarsely chop the tomatoes, onion, carrot, and celery, and put them in an earthenware baking dish or roasting pan just large enough to hold the meat. Add the chicken stock, white wine, garlic, thyme, peppercorns, and chili pepper. Add the seasoned lamb shoulder and roast for 1 hour, checking the level of liquid every oncein a while and adding more stock or water if it gets too low. Turn the roast and cook for 30 minutes more. Turn again and roast for 20 more minutes, until golden and crisp. The meat should be soft and tender, and almost falling off the bones. Carefully remove the meat and cool at room temperature. When the shoulder is cool, gently remove the bones and cut the meat into thick slices.

  15. To make a simple sauce, pass the braising liquid and vegetables through the coarsest disk of a food mill. Allow he sauce to settle and thoroughly skim the fat. Taste for seasoning. Thin with a little stock, if necessary, or reduce over medium heat to thicken. You may roast the shoulder and prepare the sauce several hours before serving.

  16. Season the chops with salt and pepper and grill over medium coals just past medium-rare, about 3 minutes per side. At the same time, grill the pieces of shoulder until warm and crisp. Arrange the meat on a platter, and spoon some of the warmed sauce over it.

1999 Alice L. Waters


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