Slow-cooked lamb shoulder chops

A cozy braise, gently spiced and packed with deep, rich flavour.

Slow-cooked lamb shoulder chops

Lamb shoulder chops, sometimes called lamb barbecue or gigot chops depending on where you live, will never win a beauty contest but they make for sensational braises, becoming gloriously tender and developing deep, rich flavour. Because of the shape of the joint from which they come, no two are the same and can vary greatly in size, so buy them by weight rather than number.

You’ll notice there’s no additional liquid here – no wine, stock or even water. When the dish is ready for the oven it might seem that something's missing, but don’t fret: the tomatoes will quickly melt and meld into a delicious braising liquid. A tight-fitting lid is key here to stop evaporation, so consider reinforcing the seal between pan and lid with a sheet of baking paper if necessary.

While there’s nothing complicated about this recipe, it does require time. If continuous cooking isn’t an option, you can break the marinating, cooking and eating up over two or even three days. Once the long, slow cooking is done, let the dish come to room temperature and stash it in the fridge, reheating on the stovetop over medium-low heat until thoroughly warmed through.

Buttery couscous makes a fine – and simple – bed for the chops and their tasty sauce, as does soft polenta or mashed potatoes.

Slow-cooked lamb shoulder chops


Serves 2.

1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon ground coriander
2 teaspoons smoked paprika
½ teaspoon sea salt flakes
freshly ground black pepper
3 tablespoons olive oil, divided
350g (12oz) lamb shoulder chops
1 red onion, halved and sliced
1 clove garlic, finely grated
200g (7 oz) tomatoes, chopped
½ teaspoon sugar

Combine the cumin, coriander, paprika and salt in a small bowl and add a good grinding of black pepper. Stir in enough olive oil, about a tablespoon, until a fragrant paste forms.

Place the chops in a resealable plastic bag (or shallow dish) and pour in the marinade, ensuring the chops are well covered. Set aside at room temperature for an hour, or in the fridge if marinating for longer.

When you’re ready to cook, set your oven to 150°C (300°F).

Heat a tablespoon of olive oil in the lidded braising dish of your choice over medium high heat. Working in batches if necessary, seal the chops for 2 minutes a side until golden. Remove to a plate.

Lower the heat to medium and add the final tablespoon of olive oil to the pan. Cook the onion until it softens and is starting to colour, then add the garlic, cooking until fragrant.

Stir in the tomatoes and sugar, then return the chops to the pan. Use a spoon to distribute the sauce so the chops are nicely covered, and let it come up to a simmer.

Cover tightly and transfer to the oven to cook for 1½ hours, until the lamb becomes very tender.