Catalan Lamb Chops with Apricots and Sage
These beautifully seasoned, fork-tender shoulder lamb chops are simmered in a heady sauce redolent of vermouth, apricots, sage, tomatoes, and cinnamon. It was inspired by a dish from Spain's Mediterranean coast. The aromatic combination of ingredients harkens back to the Moorish culture that imparted many lush flavors to the international stew pot. Serve the chops on a bed of wide noodles or mashed potatoes.
4-6 shoulder lamb chops, about 3/4 inch thick, fat trimmed, blotted dry
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
Flour for coating
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
1 large onion, chopped
1 large clove garlic, finely chopped
3/4 cup dry vermouth
3/4 ounce Glace d'Agneau Gold® dissolved in 2 cups hot water
3/4 cup diced canned tomatoes
6 fresh sage leaves plus 4 leaves for garnish
1 large sprig rosemary
1 stick cinnamon
2/3 cup soft dried apricots, diced, plus 4 apricot halves for garnish
Preheat the oven to 325°. Season the lamb chops with salt and pepper, and coat them with flour, patting to remove any excess. In a large heavy skillet, heat the oil over high heat until very hot, add the chops to the pan, and brown them on both sides. Transfer the chops to a platter and cover them loosely with aluminum foil.
Add the chopped onion to the skillet and sauté until it is golden brown. Stir in the garlic, then pour in the vermouth, stirring to scrape all the browned cooking bits from the pan. Add the diluted Glace d'Agneau Gold®, the tomatoes, 6 sage leaves, the rosemary, cinnamon and diced apricots.
Return meat to the pan, cover it tightly, and cook until the meat is almost falling off the bones, about 1 1/2 hours. If necessary, remove the chops and boil the sauce on top of the stove to reduce it to the proper consistency. Season the sauce to taste with salt and pepper.
Serve each chop with a generous amount of sauce, garnished with an apricot half and a sage leaf.
Wine Pairing: A Spanish Rioja or Australian Shiraz.