Here’s a dish I whipped up with a pack of mutton chops we bought the other day. Any meat could be used – lamb, beef, pork and venison would all be suited. The original idea for this braise came from the German dish Sauerbraten which is made with beef and involves firstly marinating the meat for several days in a vinegar, wine and spice marinade before cooking. Sauerbraten is sometimes served with raisins in it and the sauce is usually thickened with ginger snap crumbs. My version is not Sauerbraten but takes the general idea of a vinegar based marinade (no wine in this one) followed by a long slow braise which leads to a very soft and tender piece of meat with a rich abundant sauce. Here’s the recipe for what I ended up cooking.
1.4kg forequarter mutton chops (or appropriate replacement)
5 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
5 tablespoons brown malt vinegar
1 onion finely sliced
4 whole cloves
1 teaspoon black peppercorns coarsely crushed
1 teaspoon salt
few parsley stems
Oil for frying
1 onion roughly chopped
2 small carrots roughly chopped
1 large stalk celery roughly chopped
3 cloves garlic roughly chopped
4 whole allspice berries
4 whole cloves
few parsley stems
3 tablespoons plain flour
1 teaspoon tomato paste
reserved marinade (from above)
3 cups water
2 teaspoons chicken stock powder
3 teaspoons sugar
salt and pepper to taste
fresh chopped parsley for finishing
- Place the chops in a non-reactive container.
- Place the remaining marinade ingredients in a pot and bring to the boil. Hold for a minute or two then remove from the heat and allow to cool to room temperature.
- Pour the marinade over chops and make sure all surfaces come in contact with the marinade. Leave covered in the fridge for up to 3 days but at least for 24 hours. Turn occasionally.
- Preheat oven to 160C.
- Remove chops from marinade and scrape off any onion and spices that have clung to the chops.
- Pat the chops dry with paper towels.
- Strain any remaining marinade and set aside. Discard the onions, parsley stems and spices.
- Heat oil in a large pan and over high heat and brown the chops well on each side in batches until all done.
- To the pan now add the onion, carrot, celery, garlic, bayleaf, allspice, cloves and parsley stems and cook for about 5-10 minutes until lightly browned.
- Add the flour and mix in well. Cook for a minute or two.
- Add the tomato paste and mix in well.
- Add any reserved marinade and cook for a moment before adding the water and chicken stock powder. Bring to the boil while stirring. Then remove from heat.
- Place chops in a braising pan or dutch oven and pour the sauces and vegetables over. Cover and place in the preheated oven.
- Cook for about 3 hours or until the meat is very tender and is coming off the bone.
- When ready remove from oven. Remove chops to a serving dish.
- Strain the sauce through a sieve and push down hard on the vegetables to extract all their flavour. Discard the vegetables.
- Bring sauce to the boil and skim off as much fat as possible. Add some chopped parsley, the sugar and adjust the seasoning with salt and pepper if necessary.
- Pour the sauce over the chops.
Serve with mashed potato or bread or pasta or dumplings and perhaps a green vegetable.