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Doug, I like rack of lamb. I like it roasted, and grilled or fried as chops. I also like the chops, have not tried cassoulet. I also like leg of lamb out of the oven. I order lamb in restaurants frequently. I have tried braised on several occasions. I usually don't enjoy it and sometimes it is just ok. I can't help but wonder how many people enjoy it and how many don't.
It makes perfect sense to me. The more you cook any meat, and the more ingredients you add to it, the more it changes.

That's not a bad thing once you get past the idea that meat is best plain, which it is if you want "meat," and accept the notion that variations are equally good and sometimes better.

I love a good thick top sirloin grilled medium rare and charred on the outside, but I'm eagerly awaiting the pot roast -- yes, chuck roast braised with veggies -- I have in the oven right now. The blending of the flavors, when done right, results in something that is greater than its parts, something much more than mere comfort food.
Spo - of the braised lamb you've tried, has one of the preparations been Lamb chops Champvallon (chops braised with potatoes, onion and thyme)? This is a great dish that maintains some of the elegance of a simple grilled chop or rack but has the rich, creamy mouthfeel of a good braise.

It's pretty simple; just google it and you'll come up with a bunch of recipes. I don't go crazy - brown some chops in an ovenproof pan, cover the chops with thinly sliced onions, dust onion with thyme, cover that with thinly sliced peeled potatoes, salt n pepper, cover about halfway, halfway plus with chix stock, bring to boil on stovetop, stick in 400-425 oven for about 40 mins. Baste with the stock periodically while cooking.
Originally posted by cdr:
I like braised lamb, but find that it often loses its distinctiveness and "lambiness," if that makes any sense. IT makes for a great comfort food, but if given the choice, I prefer more premium cuts and preparations as well.

Use American/domestic lamb and you will find that flavor you are missing. It cost a little more than New Zealand or Australian but the flavor is worth it (if you like that "lamb" flavor). For those who like lamb without that gamey or "lambiness", stick with the imported stuff, specifically New Zealand.
Agreed. Try this -- it's superb, the best I've had:

Braised Lamb Shanks with White Beans

1½ pounds dried white Great Northern beans
5 garlic cloves
6 lamb shanks, about 1 pound each
flour seasoned with salt & pepper for dredging
4 tablespoons olive oil
2 medium onions, peeled and chopped
1 large carrot, peeled and chopped
1 large celery stalk, chopped
1 cup canned Italian tomatoes, with liquid, chopped
1 teaspoon dried rosemary
1 teaspoon dried thyme
1 teaspoon salt
freshly ground pepper
1 cup dry white wine
4 cups chicken stock
2 bay leaves
½ cup chopped fresh parsley

1. Soak the beans overnight in cold water to cover. Drain the beans, place in a large saucepan, and add enough water to cover the beans by 2 inches. Bring to a boil, lower the heat, and simmer for 1 hour. Drain and set aside. Do not add salt or the beans will be tough.

2. Sliver 2 of the garlic cloves. With a pointed knife, make small incisions in the lamb shanks and insert the garlic. Use more garlic if needed.

3. Pat the shanks dry and dredge them in the seasoned flour. Shake off the excess. Heat the oil in a very large flameproof oval casserole over moderately high heat and in it brown the shanks on all sides in batches. Set aside on a plate as done.

4. There should be about 3 tablespoons of oil left in the casserole. Reduce the heat to moderately low and in the oil sauté the onions, carrot, and celery until lightly browned. Add the remaining 3 garlic cloves, minced, for the last minute of cooking.

5. In a large bowl, toss the drained beans, sautéed vegetables, tomatoes and their liquid, rosemary, thyme, salt and pepper to taste. Return the shanks and any accumulated liquid to the casserole and pour the bean mixture over the meat. Add the wine and enough stock to barely cover the beans. Add the bay leaves.

6. Bring the casserole to a simmer on the stove top. Cover and bake in a preheated 325-degree oven until the shanks and beans are tender, about 1½ hours. Check occasionally to be sure there’s enough liquid.

7. Arrange the shanks around the rim of a large heated platter. Remove the bay leaves, stir the parsley into the beans, and mound the beans in the center of the platter.

Doug, Squirreljam, those recipes look pretty tasty. I am not much of a cook, but I should try.

Most of the braised lamb I had had or that is offered is done in red wine.

Probably should try some Cassoulet asap.

I do like that lamb gaminess, I have had some lamb that is not quite gamy, and I feel like I am missing something.
Here's a good version of cassoulet:

Los Angeles Times
March 1, 2006

Preparation time: ½ hour
Cooking time: 4 hours
Servings: 6 to 8

3 pounds lamb shoulder blade chops
8 large cloves garlic, peeled
2 pounds fennel (3 small or 2 medium)
3 tablespoons olive oil, plus more for drizzling
1 carrot, peeled and diced
1 onion, diced
1 cup white wine
1 cup crushed tomatoes
1 pound Great Northern white beans or navy beans
Freshly ground black pepper
Small loaf French bread (enough for 1¾ cups crumbs)
8 fresh sage leaves

1. Remove small bones and excess fat from meat; cut into serving pieces; lightly salt meat.

2. Remove tops from fennel and trim bottoms; cut lengthwise (top to bottom) into quarters.

3. Heat oil in a large heavy pot over medium-high heat; add half the meat and brown well; remove to bowl; repeat with remaining meat.

4. Reduce heat to medium-low, add carrot and cook without stirring until lightly browned on one side, 2 to 5 minutes; stir and cook 3 to 5 minutes more.

5. Add onion and cook until soft, 3 to 5 minutes.

6. Add wine, bring to boil, and cook until it is reduced to a thick syrup, 7 to 10 minutes.

7. Add crushed tomatoes and cook 3 to 5 minutes.

8. Add 5 cups water, beans, fennel, and garlic; stir gently; add lamb and press gently into liquid. (Note: Dried beans vary; more water may be needed during cooking.)

9. Cover pot with tight-fitting lid; place in preheated 325 degree oven.

10. After 1 hour, add ½ tablespoon salt and a generous grinding of black pepper; stir gently to avoid breaking up the fennel or crushing the garlic.

11. Check after 1½ hours (2½ hours total); if needed, add up to 1 cup water and stir gently.

12. After 1 hour (3½ hours total), remove from oven; increase heat to 400 degrees.

13. Remove crust from bread, cut into cubes, and place in food processor with sage; process to form crumbs; spread mixture evenly over top of cassoulet; lightly drizzle with olive oil.

14. Return uncovered pot to 400 degree oven to brown crumbs, about 20 minutes.

15. Serve immediately.

Each of 8 servings: 569 calories; 37 grams protein; 50 grams carbohydrates; 12 grams fiber; 23 grams fat; 8 grams saturated fat; 84 mg. cholesterol; 197 mg. sodium.
Originally posted by cdr:
....... but if given the choice, I prefer more premium cuts and preparations as well.

I prefer premium preparations of the lesser cuts. Braised lamb, short ribs, ossobuco etc. I enjoyed a braised oxtail ragu this weekend that was among the most delicious things I've put in my mouth in a good while.

Originally posted by PurpleHaze:
Originally posted by cdr:
....... but if given the choice, I prefer more premium cuts and preparations as well.

I prefer premium preparations of the lesser cuts. Braised lamb, short ribs, ossobuco etc. I enjoyed a braised oxtail ragu this weekend that was among the most delicious things I've put in my mouth in a good while.

AH, yes! My mother-in-law, may she rest in peace and keep her mouth shut for a change, made great oxtail soup. I was a little put off by the thought of it the first time she served it to me, but I was only 20 and slightly more stupid than I am now. Gotta find that recipe -- it's around her someplace.

I agree with your point completely. As much as I like steaks and chops and so forth, I'll choose something that requires a lot of work and skill over relatively plain meat every time, unless I'm in some place that I go to specifically for meat, such as Ruth's Chris or the Pacific Dining Car. Same if we're having company -- rather than simply grill steaks, I'll usually opt for something like Boeuf a la Carbonade Flamande. I have fun making it, I get to show off a bit, and my guests are always impressed (or at least they pretend they are).

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