Lemon Braised Lamb Shoulder Chops

IMG_8425I took a long walk through the back trails of Thetis this morning with two young friends. I realized as we walked, that I’ve been walking on this island since I was 7 years old. The island has changed in so many ways, mostly just because more folks live here now, and that, in itself, brings change. One of the children asked me how I knew the trails, and wondered who looked after them all. The paths stay clear of growth from the many feet that travel them, and walkers toss off branch tips and such whenever they’re found. When I told them that the trails get looked after just by being used, it made me think of just how many trails traverse this small island.

We would find them with our parents leading the way when we were so young, and then later when we were given more freedom, we’d adventure through them, sometimes coming to dead ends, and working our way back. When I was older still, I would spend hours on horseback, sometimes getting a bit lost, but never in any danger, it would just take me longer to work my way back home. Our children were raised on the trails, and it thrilled me to hear them talk about their favourite glens or copses, and the imaginative things that would happen there.IMG_4032

One of the island’s main trails, Lawrence Trail, runs through the top corner of our farm (Lawrence Spring Farm), and then follows one of our boundaries through to the center of the island. We have many walkers, and a few mountain bikers, that use the trail regularly. People stop and talk to the horses, or the cows and calves, while they walk along in the cool of the shady trail.   I don’t think there’s anywhere on this island where you’re further than a few minutes from one trail or another. Most of the trails are on private land, and they continue to be used by all, graciously allowed by the owners.IMG_4029

Fifty years my feet have found themselves padding along the old paths, and I am so thankful that I live here, and am able to walk amongst these beautiful woodlands whenever I need or want to get out and walk. To be able to walk so freely to and from one’s home is one of the things that make it a home.IMG_4028

When I think of how important this island, and its beaches, meadows and woodlands are to our family, with so many years of our lives spent here, it is no wonder that several of us have made it our home. These days we gather from our different houses to meet for a simple supper together, maybe play a hand or two of cards, laugh, and enjoy each others company, knowing how wonderful it is that a place has brought us all back together.

This simple dish has been shared a few times during our gatherings, it is a lovely way to serve lamb; I hope you enjoy it.

Click here for printable version.

Serves 4 – 6


4 lamb shoulder chops (about 2 lbs)

salt & pepper to season

2 T oil

1 onion – diced into ¼” pcs

3 cloves garlic – sliced

2 lemons – ends removed, cut into ¼” slices, pips removed

3 – 4 sprigs mint

3 – 4 sprigs rosemary

a small handful of parsley

1 c red wine

½ c water


Pre-heat the oven to 300°

Cut each of the lamb chops in two, to give eight pieces in total.IMG_7901

Season the chops liberally with salt & pepper.

Heat the oil in a large skillet over medium high heat.

Sear the chops on each side, perhaps doing in two batches so they aren’t crowded.IMG_7903

IMG_7904Remove the chops to a plate.

Add the onions, garlic & lemon slices to the lamb drippings in the skillet.IMG_8372


Stirring occasionally, sauté over medium heat, for about 8 minutes, until the lemons are slightly browned and starting to fall apart.IMG_8379

Put half the cooked lemon-onion mixture into the bottom of a Dutch oven or other heavy braising pot.IMG_8381

Layer the seared lamb chops on top, nestling them in.IMG_8382

Scatter the herbs over top of the chops, stripping the leaves from the stalks, and discarding the stalks.IMG_8375IMG_8383

Layer the remaining half of the lemon-onion mixture over top of the herbs.IMG_8384

Gently pour the cup of wine and the half-cup of water over the whole of it.IMG_8386


Cover securely with a lid, and put in the oven.

Cook for 3 hours.

Remove from the oven and carefully pour off any liquid into a small saucepan.

Replace the cover over the lamb mixture, and leave to rest at the back of the stove.

Reduce the liquid over medium heat, until there’s about 1 cup.IMG_8413

Pour back over the lamb, and put the pot onto a burner.IMG_8415

Over medium heat, bring it all to a simmer.

Serve, ladling some of the liquid over the meat, and letting some of the lemon mixture make it on to each plate.

Alternately, plate family style, with the lamb in the center of a platter, surrounded by the lemons & onion, with the liquid spooned over.

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