Beth Hensperger calls for cubed lamb shoulder or leg of lamb for this simple sweet-and-sour recipe, but bone-in shoulder-cut lamb chops also work well. (Remove the bones and shred the meat before serving.) Cook this in a 2-to-3-quart slow cooker, or double the recipe to cook it in a larger slow cooker.
Serve over rigatoni or wide noodles, such as pappardelle.
Make Ahead: For best results, refrigerate the cooking liquid for at least 1 hour in order to de-fat it easily, then return the lamb to the cooking liquid to warm through over low heat before serving. The flavor of the dish deepens with a day or two of refrigeration.
- 1 pound lamb shoulder or leg of lamb, trimmed of excess fat and cut into 1- to 2-inch pieces (may substitute bone-in, shoulder-cut lamb chops; see headnote)
- Kosher or sea salt
- Freshly ground black pepper
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 3/4 cup water
- 1/3 cup red wine vinegar
- 3 tablespoons tomato paste
- 2 teaspoons sugar
- Chopped parsley, for garnish (optional)
- Freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese, for garnish (optional)
Have a 2-to-3-quart slow cooker at hand.
Season the lamb with salt and pepper to taste.
Heat the oil in a large saute pan over high heat. Add the lamb and cook for about 5 minutes, stirring often, just to brown it on all sides. Use a slotted spoon to transfer to the bowl of the slow cooker, along with the water.
Whisk together the vinegar, tomato paste and sugar in a small bowl, then add to the lamb and stir to incorporate. Cover and cook on LOW for 6 to 9 hours, or until the lamb is fork-tender.
If you can, it's best to de-fat the dish by removing the lamb with a slotted spoon, then refrigerate the cooking liquid for at least 1 hour or until the fat congeals on top. Scrape off and discard the fat; reheat the lamb over low heat, until warmed through or longer to reduce and thicken the sauce.
Serve warm, with parsley and Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese, if desired.
Adapted from "Not Your Mother's Slow Cooker Recipes For Two" (Harvard Common Press, 2007).
Tested by Joe Yonan.
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