What would you do if you discovered that the lamb chops you bought weren’t of good quality? Last weekend, I bought four packs (almost two kilos total) of lamb chops, we grilled almost three packs for a small party that we hosted and, to my dismay, the lamb chops weren’t as tender as I wanted them to be. No one complained though and my daughters were still happily devouring the few leftover chops by evening. They even asked me to grill some more to bring back to the condo (their school year started the following day).
Earlier today, I was checking the contents of the freezer and I saw the last unopened pack of lamb chops. I didn’t want to grill them, I wanted to enjoy the lamb meat at its most tender and succulent, so I decided to cut the chops into cubes and braise them.
The result was a subtly sweet, slightly tangy, delightfully spicy and super rich dish. The combination of lemongrass, ginger and pineapple syrup removed the strong smell of the lamb meat. The tomatoes add a bit of tartness and color to the dish, and give the meat a deeper, darker hue. Under ordinary circumstances, I’d use stewing lamb for a dish like this but since my lamb chops seemed more like stewing lamb than chops, they were just perfect.
Braised lamb with chilies, crushed pineapple, lemongrass and ginger
- 500 grams stewing lamb (or not too tender lamb chops), cut into two-inch cubes
- 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
- 2 thumb-sized pieces of ginger peeled and finely chopped
- 2 lemongrass stalks finely sliced (see tips)
- 4 finger chilies finely sliced
- 4 to 6 tomatoes diced
- 1 cup canned crushed pineapple
- 1 and 1/2 cups pineapple syrup (from the canned crushed pineapple)
- salt to taste
- pepper to taste
- 2 tablespoons about 2 tbsps. of brown sugar
- 1/2 cup fried shallots to garnish
- slivers of onion leaves to garnish
- 1 finger chili thinly sliced, to garnish
- 1 small handful of cilantro torn, to garnish
Heat the cooking oil in a pot.
Saute the lemongrass, ginger and chilies just until fragrant.
Add the lamb cubes. Cook over high heat, stirring occasionally, until nicely seared on all sides.
Add the crushed pineapple, tomatoes and pineapple syrup.
Season with salt, pepper and sugar.
Bring to the boil, lower the heat, cover and simmer for 45 minutes to an hour, or until the lamb is tender. If the liquid dries up before the lamb is done, add water, no more than a quarter cup at a time.
When the lamb is done, uncover the pot, turn up the heat and cook the mixture until almost dry.
Scoop the lamb mixture onto a platter. Top with the fried shallots, onion leaves, sliced chili and cilantro. Serve hot.
I know that there seems to be a lot of garnishing for this dish but, trust me, they aren’t merely for decoration. They all add contrasting flavors and textures to the braised lamb which make it even more delicious.