What Is Braised Lamb Shoulder?

Angie Bates

Braised lamb shoulder is prepared by first browning lamb shoulder meat and then baking it in simmering liquid. The braising process produces extremely tender, flavorful meat. Usually composed of wine and other flavorings, the braising liquid is retained after baking and reduced into a sauce called jus.

Marjoram, which is often used to make braised lamb.
Marjoram, which is often used to make braised lamb.

Normally, a boneless lamb shoulder roast is used to make a braised lamb shoulder. Bone-in cuts may occasionally be used as well, however. The roast is usually tied with string at regular intervals before being worked with, and the lamb remains tied through cooking until it is ready to slice and serve. Additionally, spices are normally rubbed onto the meat before it is seared. Some versions may simply season the lamb with salt and pepper, but others combine those spices and other seasonings, such as cumin or fennel seeds, with olive oil and rub that mixture into the meat.

Red wine is often added to lamb braising liquid for a bolder taste.
Red wine is often added to lamb braising liquid for a bolder taste.

The braising liquid normally consists of a dry red or white wine combined with chicken, beef, or lamb stock. Fresh herb sprigs, such as rosemary, thyme, and marjoram, are usually added to the liquid as well. The sprigs are often bunched and tied together then discarded after braising. Vegetables, such as carrots, celery, and onions, as well as fruits, like apples, may also be included in the dish.

Once the meat has been seasoned, it is browned. Normally, a large casserole dish or roasting pan is placed over two stove burners and the meat is browned in oil in the pan. After browning, the meat is removed, the dish wiped out, and the braising liquid added and boiled. If vegetables are used, they are often cooked briefly in the oil before the liquid is added. When the liquid boils, the meat is replaced in the dish, which is covered and placed in the oven.

A braised lamb shoulder normally cooks between two-and-a-half and three hours. When the meat has finished cooking, it is placed on a cutting board and covered with foil to help retain its heat. Meanwhile, the braising liquid is poured into a pan and simmered, reducing the liquid to a thick sauce, or jus. Versions which use white wine in the braising liquid may add red wine to the sauce for a bolder taste. Reduction of the liquid normally takes between half an hour and an hour.

When the jus is complete, the lamb can be sliced, and the sauce is poured over the portions before serving. Braised lamb shoulder can be prepared up to three days ahead. It should be kept in the refrigerator with its sauce until it is served.

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