Sicilian lamb spezzatino, saffron, mint, basil; potatoes; kale

Meat and potatoes…and kale.

I don’t often do long braises, mostly because I would have to plan ahead more than I am used to doing: I normally don’t know what – or how – I’m going to cook until shortly before I begin. There’s also the thing that most of our meals need serve only 2 people, so a roast would be somewhat out of scale.

But last night circumstances conspired to bring us this small braise. I had purchased 2 lamb shoulder chops a little while back, while post-operative Barry was still unable to cut his food. They were frozen when I got them, and I kept them frozen, waiting for the right moment.

The idea was that I would cut the meat into chunks and make a small stew and a rich sauce that could easily be handled with a fork, and maybe a bit of bread or other starch. He recovered so quickly however that I never had to implement my plan. Still, I kept thinking of the lamb, and this weekend it seemed the right time to make it into a rich Sunday meal, or ‘comfort food’, as Barry loves to say, and I didn’t even have to cut it up first.

I had been saving this David Tanis recipe for 5 years; I had nearly all of the ingredients it specified (I halved them yesterday), and it seemed the absolute right moment to try it out.

COOK’S NOTE: I missed my cue for stirring the chopped herb(s) into the sauce just before serving, so I sprinkled them on top, after the meat and the sauce had been arranged on the plates.

  • the ingredients I used were: two seven-and-a-half-ounce lamb shoulder chops from Shannon Brook Farm (the recipe specified they be 2-inches thick, but these were only one inch); red onions from Norwich Meadows Farm; Spanish saffron (DO La Mancha from Antonio Sotos); a San Marzano ‘Double Concentrated’ Italian tomato paste; a California chenin blanc, Miriam Alexandra Chenin Blanc California 2016, from Naked Wines; and, instead of mint alone, a mix of some mint from Windfall Farms but mostly basil from Gotham Greens Rooftop Basil, purchased at Whole Foods

  • eight medium-size German butterball potatoes from Norwich Meadows Farm, scrubbed and boiled, with their skins, along with a generous amount of salt, until barely cooked through, drained, halved, dried while still inside the large still-warm vintage Corning Pyrex Flameware blue-glass pot in which they had cooked, tossed with a tablespoon or so of olive oil, sprinkled with sea salt, freshly-ground black pepper, tossed with some of the herb mix distributed on top of the lamb