Merlot-Braised Lamb Shoulder with Lemon Gremolata

David Page and Barbara Shinn cook lamb shoulder in their own plummy Shinn Estate Merlot until it's meltingly tender, then garnish it with a lemon gremolata. Says Page, "It's best to cook with what's right in front of you, and on Long Island, you don't have to reach very far for Merlot."

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  • Servings: 6

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  • One 3-pound boneless lamb shoulder roast, tied
  • 3 garlic cloves, thinly sliced, plus 1 minced garlic clove
  • Salt and freshly ground pepper
  • 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 cup pearl onions, peeled
  • 2 cups Merlot or other dry red wine
  • 1 cup beef stock
  • One 15-ounce can diced tomatoes, drained
  • One 3-inch rosemary sprig plus 1 teaspoon chopped rosemary
  • Two 1-inch-wide strips of lemon zest, plus 1 teaspoon minced lemon zest
  • 3 medium carrots, cut into 2-inch pieces
  • 1 fennel bulb, cut into 8 wedges attached at the core
  • 1 tablespoon minced flat-leaf parsley
  • Pinch of crushed red pepper

How to make this recipe

  1. Preheat the oven to 325°. Using a sharp knife, make deep slits all over the lamb and fill each slit with a garlic slice. Season the lamb with salt and pepper.

  2. In a large enameled cast-iron casserole, heat the olive oil. Add the lamb and cook over moderate heat, turning, until the roast is browned and crusty, about 12 minutes. Transfer the lamb to a plate and pour off the fat in the casserole.

  3. Add the pearl onions and cook over low heat until lightly browned, about 5 minutes. Add the wine and scrape up any browned bits from the bottom of the casserole. Add the stock, tomatoes, rosemary sprig and lemon zest strips and bring to a boil. Return the lamb and any accumulated juices to the casserole and cover.

  4. Transfer the covered casserole to the oven and braise the lamb for 1 1/2 hours, until the meat is nearly tender. Add the carrots and fennel wedges, cover and braise for about 45 minutes longer, until the vegetables and lamb are tender.

  5. Transfer the lamb and vegetables to a platter and cover with foil. Discard the rosemary sprigs and lemon zest. Boil the braising liquid over high heat until it is reduced by half, about 15 minutes.

  6. Meanwhile, in a small bowl, toss the parsley with the crushed red pepper flakes, chopped rosemary, minced lemon zest and the minced garlic.

  7. Discard the strings from the lamb and slice the meat. Transfer to a platter and garnish with the parsley-lemon gremolata. Serve with the sauce and vegetables.

Make Ahead

The lamb can be refrigerated, sliced or unsliced, with the vegetables in the braising sauce for up to 2 days. Reheat gently in a 325° oven or on the stovetop before serving.

Suggested Pairing

Page doesn't have to reach far for a glass of Shinn Estate Vineyard Merlot to drink with the dish. Another good choice is the spicy McManis Family Vineyards Merlot.

Contributed By Published October 2008

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