There was a time when my family went lamb-crazy. We grilled lamb chops almost every two weeks and when we got bored with the chops, I learned to cook a whole leg of lamb and even served it once like ham. There came a point when my husband suddenly couldn’t stand the peculiar odor of lamb. And it happened when I still had a few trays of lamb chops and shanks in the freezer. I figured the best way to remove, or at least hide, the odor would be to cook the lamb as stews. The already strong-smelling adobo (some say pungent though I disagree) would be a good choice. But I still decided to take extra measures to remove as much of the odor of lamb as I could.
Traditionally, it is vinegar that gives adobo its sour flavor. Ironically, it is also vinegar, especially the native vinegar, that gives adobo such a strong smell that make newbies to Filipino food flinch. On the other hand, kalamansi and lemon juice, just as sour, are both highly aromatic. Totally eliminating vinegar would take away the adobe-ness of the dish. But what if I combined vinegar with kalamansi or lemon juice?
Know what? It worked. :)
4-6 lamb chops (you can use shanks)
a whole head of garlic, peeled and crushed
a teaspoonful of crushed peppercorn
1 bay leaf
1/6 c. of vinegar
1/6 c. of kalamansi or lemon juice
1/3 to 1/2 c. of soy sauce
chopped wansuy (optional but highly recommended)
half a teaspoonful of grated lemon zest (optional but highly recommended as well)
Cooking procedure :
Place the lamb in a pan large enough so that the chops (or shanks) are on a single layer. Add the garlic, crushed peppercorns and bay leaf. Pour in the vinegar and kalamansi or lemon juice. Turn on the heat on high setting. Cook without disturbing the lamb until the liquid is boiling rapidly. Turn the lamb over and continue cooking until the liquid has evaporated and the lamb starts to render fat.
Cook the lamb in its fat (you may have to add a few tablespoonfuls of vegetable oil if you’re using shanks to help brown them since they do not contain as much fat as chops) until lightly browned, turning them over for even browning. Transfer the lamb to a plate lined with several pieces of absorbent kitchen paper. Pour off the fat from the pan but retain the spices.
Return the lamb to the pan. Pour in the soy sauce and add about a cup of water. Add the grated lemon zest. Simmer the lamb for an hour to an hour and a half or until tender. If the liquid dries up during cooking, add more water, about half a cup at a time.
When the lamb is done, arrange them on a platter. Pour the sauce over them. Sprinkle with chopped wansuy and serve with hot rice.