Lamb Shoulder Roast --Pulled Lamb Shoulder with Goat Cheese Empanada

I produce and market quality grass-fed lamb.

I know first hand that a lamb shoulder roast can be tough if not cooked properly. When I say tough, I mean tough. You see, a lamb uses it's shoulder muscles every day for every step of it's life. (All this activity produces flavor! In fact, the lamb shoulder roast you are about to feast on is one of the most flavor-filled of all lamb cuts. The others are shanks and roast leg of lamb.) But like I said, the shoulder can be tough unless the cook knows his/her stuff.

While searching for roast lamb recipes I discovered this scintillating recipe in the January, 2009 edition of "Lamb and Wool", a publication of the Iowa Sheep Industry Association. Chef Tim Love of Lonesome Dove Bistro, Fort Worth, Texas developed it.

Pulled Lamb Shoulder with Goat Cheese Empanada

Lamb Filling:

  • 1 pound boneless American lamb shoulder
  • 1 Tablespoon olive oil
  • 2 celery stalks, chopped
  • 3 carrots, peeled and chopped
  • 1 onion, peeled and chopped
  • 4 cloves garlic, diced
  • 2 Tablespoons fresh herbs, such as rosemary, oregano or thyme
  • 2 cups red cooking wine
  • 1 quart chicken broth
  • 1 cup sweet corn kernels (fresh or frozen)
  • Salt and pepper, to taste
  • 1 Tablespoon butter
  • 1/4 pound crumbles goat cheese

In a skillet, heat olive oil over medium heat. Season lamb with salt and pepper; sear in a hot skillet until brown on all sides, about 5 minutes.

Remove from heat; transfer to a roasting pan. Add celery, carrots, onion, garlic, fresh herbs, cooking wine and broth.

Cover and braise at 300° F for about 3 hours or until the meat is tender and easily shredded with a fork. Shred the lamb while still warm. Season corn with salt and pepper; saute in butter until golden brown. Mix the warm lamb with the corn and goat cheese.

Empanada Dough:

  • 4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 tablespoons granulated sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 4 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 cup vegetable shortening
  • 1 cup chicken stock

In a mixing bowl, combine flour, sugar, salt and baking powder. Mix well. Add shortening; break up by hand until it looks like cornmeal. Add chicken stock; knead until all incorporated. Wrap the dough and let rest for at least 3 minutes.

Roll dough to 1/4-inch thickness; cut into 3 inch diameter circles with a cutter or bowl. Place lamb filling in the center of each circle and crimp the edges with a fork. Brush dough with an egg wash. (An "egg wash" is egg yolk or egg white mixed with a small amount of water or milk, then brushed over breads, pastry and other baked goods before baking to give color or brightness.) Bake at 350° F for 15 minutes or until dough is golden brown.

(Chef Love says you can also fry the empanadas in oil.)

I've not tried this particular lamb shoulder roast recipe yet, but everything points to a tender, tasty treat. Let me know what you think.

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