Aginares me Kreas

Braised Lamb (or Pork) Chops with Artichokes

LAMB CHOPS cooked together with artichokes take on a delicate sweetness that is complemented by the tartness of the lemon juice. In many parts of Greece, the sauce is thickened with egg, making it an avgolemono (egg-lemon sauce). But I prefer this much lighter version of the dish, based on a recipe given to me by Claire Ksida from Chios. Claire and her husband own the tiny Perleas Hotel, which they created by restoring an old Genoese villa, beautifully situated among extensive orange and tangerine groves, in Kambos, just outside the island’s capital. Claire prepares this dish for her guests in the spring, with the fresh tender artichokes she grows in her garden. “I have plenty of artichokes, so I freeze some because I like to be able to continue making the dish throughout the summer,” she told me.

This dish is usually served on its own, but it can be accompanied by egg noodles or Pasta Squares, tossed in the lemony sauce.

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Ingredients

  • ½ cup olive oil
  • pounds shoulder lamb chops, trimmed of most fat, or 1½ pounds boneless pork loin, cut into 2-inch cubes
  • cups coarsely chopped onions
  • cups Chicken Stock or water
  • 2 lemons, halved
  • 8 medium artichokes
  • ¼ cup freshly squeezed lemon juice, or more to taste
  • cups chopped fresh dill
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper

Method

In a large, deep skillet or a Dutch oven, heat the oil over medium-high heat and sauté the meat in batches, turning often, until golden on both sides, about 10 minutes. Add the onions and sauté for 3 to 5 minutes more, or until they are soft. Add the stock or water and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to low and simmer for 30 to 40 minutes.

Meanwhile, fill a large bowl with cold water and squeeze the juice of the 2 lemons into it (reserve the lemon halves). Snap off several layers of leaves from each artichoke, pulling them downward to break them off at the base. Rub the cut parts often with the lemon halves as you work to prevent discoloration. Cut off the top of each artichoke and trim the broken parts of leaves around the stem with a sharp knife, again rubbing the cut surfaces with lemon. Halve the artichokes and remove the center chokes with a knife or grapefruit spoon; drop each prepared artichoke into the bowl of lemon water.

With a slotted spoon, remove the artichokes from the lemon water and add to the meat with ¾ cup of the dill, the lemon juice and salt and pepper to taste. If necessary, add a little water—the liquid should almost cover the meat and artichokes. Place an inverted heatproof plate over the meat and artichokes to keep them submerged. Cover and simmer for 20 to 30 minutes, or until the artichokes are tender.

If the sauce is too thin, remove the plate, increase the heat to high and boil for 3 to 4 minutes to reduce slightly. Taste and adjust the seasonings, adding more lemon juice, salt and/or pepper if necessary. Stir in the remaining ¾ cup dill and serve.

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