Lamb in honor of the Lamb: braised lamb chops

I cooked dinner for my family on Christmas Eve. When I’m home for the holidays, I try to spend as much time in the kitchen as possible. Of course, I have nothing against my apartment’s kitchen in Cambridge, but it’s a luxury for me to cook with sharp knives and enough counter space, so I like to take advantage of it when I can.

Plus, during the holidays we tend to go out for every other meal, to celebrate this or that or gather among the parade of family members that populate the tri-state area. That’s what the holidays are for, at least that’s part of it, but I do often end up craving a home-cooked meal.

For the lamb, I used David Lebovitz’s adaptation of a David Lieberman recipe as my guide, as I happened to have the same amount of meat the recipe calls for, if a different cut. The chops were marinated overnight with salt and pepper, then given a good sear. After deglazing the pan and cooking some garlic and ginger in there, I transferred those bits along with the meat, Chinese rice wine vinegar, soy sauce, and stock, into a 325F oven for 3 hours. It was impossible to escape the smell of lamb in the house; I wouldn’t be surprised if our neighbors were subject to it as well. I tossed in carrots along with a couple heaping tablespoons of soybean paste for the final 30 mins. The recipe calls for 1 cup of hoisin sauce, which sounded excessive to me.

As hoped for, flavorful, fork-tender meat appeared after 3.5 hours in the oven. My brother is a picky eater, so I was content to hear him bestow a favorable verdict on the lamb, even if it took the form of: “yo, sis, baller.”

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My dad insisted on having a fish sacrificed for the occasion as well, despite my insistence that fish and lamb don’t go together. But the fish, killed not an hour earlier, was devoured by my parents, and I couldn’t help but flake off a couple pieces for myself. As you can see, dad likes to supplement the ginger and scallion with a heavy dose of cracked black pepper. I think a dusting of finely ground white pepper might work better here for contrast: it’s a little more pungent, and you don’t get overwhelmed when a pepper granule lands between your teeth.

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Lightly sauteed string beans with olive oil and lemon juice:

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A bit belatedly, I wish you all a wonderful holiday season: a blessedly uneventful one surrounded by those you hold dear.

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