Braised Lamb or Goat with Juniper Berries, Fennel and Sage

Braised Lamb or Goat with Juniper Berries, Fennel and Sage

Braised Lamb or Goat with Juniper Berries, Fennel and Sage

1-1/2 C. dry red wine

2 pounds lamb stew meat (or try goat—see Kitchen Notes)

salt and freshly ground black pepper

olive oil

1 medium red onion, thinly sliced (about 2-1/2 to 3 C.)

4 cloves garlic, minced

1/2 C. finely chopped celery (about 1 rib)

2 T. chopped fresh sage

10 juniper berries, finely crushed with a mortar and pestle

1/2 tsp. fennel seeds, crushed with a mortar and pestle

2 T. tomato paste


2 bay leaves

juice of 1/2 lemon

2 T. chopped Italian parsley


Preheat oven to 350ºF. Bring wine to boil in a saucepan. Reduce heat and simmer until wine is reduced to 3/4 C., about 7 to 10 minutes (if you overdo the reduction, just add unreduced wine to bring it up to 3/4 C.). Set aside. Meanwhile, pat lamb chunks dry with paper towels and season with salt and pepper. Heat a Dutch oven or other heavy oven-safe pot over medium-high heat. Add 2 T. olive oil to pot; when it begins to shimmer, brown lamb chunks on all sides, working in batches. Transfer browned lamb to plate. You may need to drizzle in a little more oil between batches.  Reduce heat to medium and sauté onions with a little salt (again, you may need to add a little oil) until just softened, 5 to 7 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add garlic, celery, sage and crushed juniper berries and fennel seeds and cook for another 5 to 7 minutes. Add wine, 3/4 C. of water, tomato paste and bay leaves and stir, scraping up browned bits. Return lamb and any accumulated juices to the pot and bring to boil. If necessary, add a little more water, but don’t make it too soupy. Remove from heat, cover with lid and place in oven. Braise for about 1-1/2 hours, until meat is almost tender. Finish cooking on the stovetop over low heat for about 1/2 hour. If sauce is too liquid, leave the lid slightly ajar so it will reduce. Conversely, if it gets too dry, add water, a little at a time. Remove from heat. Stir in lemon juice and transfer to individual plates or a serving dish. Top with chopped parsley.  Note: Lamb? Goat? Yes. You know how every country but the United States calls soccer football? Same deal with eating goat and lamb—it seems everyone but us does it, with gusto. In fact, 70 percent of the red meat consumed in the world is goat meat. So what does everyone else know that we don’t? Maybe it’s that goat is lighter and healthier than beef, with a slightly sweet flavor.

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