Winter weather--again? How about some spring lamb?

Here in the Great Midwest, we woke up to a graceful dusting of snow today. If it were January, I’d be getting out my Le Creuset braiser and cooking up something big, hearty, and warm. But it’s March 29, for heaven’s sake, and I’m looking for something that at least hints of spring.

Enter my braised lamb blade chops recipe. It takes advantage of spring lamb, and the sprightly gremolata on top adds a bracing dose of freshness that nods to the brighter days to come. So, I’ll go ahead and get out my braiser after all. (And if you don’t have a braiser, an ovenproof skillet with a tight-fitting lid will do just fine).

The recipe, below, is based on a braised lamb shank dish that I’ve enjoyed in France; however, I’m using lamb blade steaks. I find this cut braises more quickly (so yes, you can cook this dish on a Tuesday night); it’s also more graceful to serve than shanks, which I find generally have too much meat for one, yet not quite enough meat for two.

Braised Lamb Blade Chops with Herbes de Provence, Lemon, and Roasted Garlic

The garlic in this recipe works two ways. Some is used to enrich the sauce. The remaining cloves are served as a condiment—something extra to dab a forkful of meat in. Or, serve bread alongside, and encourage diners to spread a little roasted garlic on each slice.

Makes 4 servings.

4 (10-ounce) bone-in lamb blade steaks (also called lamb blade chops), cut 3/4-inch thick
Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
15 garlic cloves, unpeeled
1 cup dry white wine
1/2 cup low-sodium chicken broth
1 teaspoon dried herbes de Provence
1/4 cup snipped fresh parsley
1 tablespoon grated lemon zest
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice

1. Preheat the oven to 350°F.

2. Season the lamb with salt and pepper. Heat the oil in an oven-safe Dutch oven or braiser over medium-high heat until it shimmers. Cook the chops, turning once, until brown, about 8 minutes (reduce the heat to medium if the meat browns too quickly). Transfer the meat to a plate. Reduce the heat to medium and add the garlic cloves to the pan; cook and stir until just slightly brown all over, 2 to 3 minutes. Transfer the garlic cloves to the plate with the chops.

3. Add the wine to the pan; increase the heat and bring to a boil, stirring to loosen any brown bits from the bottom of the pan. Boil until the wine is reduced by half, about 3 minutes. Add the chicken broth and herbes de Provence. Return the lamb and garlic to the pan. Cover tightly, transfer to the oven, and bake until the lamb is tender, about 1 hour.

4. Just before the lamb is finished, stir together the parsley and lemon zest in a small bowl. Set aside.

5. Transfer the lamb and 8 of the garlic cloves to a plate; cover with foil to keep warm. Using a fork, press down on the garlic cloves still in the pan (the garlic will pop easily out of the skins at this point). Discard the skins and use the fork to mash the garlic in the pan. Use a wire whisk to blend the garlic pulp into the pan juices. Bring the pan juices to a boil; reduce the heat and simmer until reduced to about 2/3 cup. Stir in the lemon juice; taste and adjust the seasoning, if necessary.

6. Divide the lamb steaks among four dinner plates; top each with a little of the sauce, then sprinkle with the lemon-parsley mixture. Place 2 of the reserved roasted garlic cloves on each plate and serve.

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