I recently checked out ‘Mr. Wilkinson’s Vegetables‘ from my local library and it’s crammed with a treasure trove of yummy-sounding recipes. I’ve tried three so far and have been extremely pleased with how tasty everything has turned out. I’ve never cooked lamb neck before, and after reading his recipe for ‘Braised Goat Neck’, I went out and bought lamb necks just to try his recipe (though I tried to find goat meat first – it’s yummy, too). I’m glad I did!
A few things about lamb neck – it’s relatively cheap ($3-5/lb) and it’s very fatty, so braising is a great way to render that fat and cook the meat until it’s falling off of the bone. This isn’t exactly Mr. Wilkinson’s recipe – I modified for what ingredients I had on hand, and I used a slow-cooker instead of his stove-top method – but it approximates what he was going for. I’d definitely recommend pairing it with his recommended shaved fennel & mozzarella salad – perfect to go with the rich meat!
Sorry for the lack of a photo of the finished dish, but it’s all been eaten!
Braised Lamb Neck
Inspired by Matt Wilkinson
3 tbsp olive oil
2 lamb necks (looking for about 2.5 – 3 lbs total – your butcher should be able to cut to get you to what you need)
1 onion, chopped
2 sticks celery, cut into 3-4 segments each
5 garlic cloves, roughly chopped
1/4 bunch of thyme
1 tsp each of smoked paprika, ground cumin, ground cinnamon, ground coriander
1/4 tsp ground cardamom
1 1/4 c apple cider vinegar
1/2 c light brown sugar
14 – 16 oz whole canned or jarred tomatoes with their juices
2 tsp fine sea salt
Heat the olive oil in a 12 c capacity saucepan over high heat and add the goat necks to sear all over until browned. Remove from the pan, reduce heat to medium and add the onion, celery and garlic and cook until colored. Add the thyme and spices and cook for 3 minutes. Add vinegar and sugar, then cook until the liquid is reduced by half. Add the tomatoes and salt, then bring to a boil. Transfer the mixture to a 6 quart slow cooker and top with the lamb neck, then add water until the lamb neck is about 2/3 covered. Cover with the lid, and don’t lift until you are done cooking.
Set the slow cooker on high for 1 hour, until liquids are bubbling, then reduce heat to low and cook an additional 4-6 hours, until the meat is falling from the bones. Once cooked, remove the necks and cool until you can handle them. Pick the meat from the bones and keep warm. Pass the cooking liquid through a strainer and discard the solids. Add the picked goat meat back to the sauce.
I served this with cheesy grits and the aforementioned shaved fennel salad. It was a hit! Leftovers would be spectacular on a sandwich…