Ba, Ba, Black Sheep...

Pride goeth before the fall, or so they say. After my experiment with shrimp went so well, I was feeling pretty confident in my cooking skills. Perhaps it was time to conquer another protein that I didn't have much experience with -- lamb. Though people seemed to be polarized by lamb, with some of the mind that it is too strongly flavored, I've always enjoyed the buttery, rich flavor of lamb when I've eaten it in restaurants. Lamb chops are actually one of my favorite dishes, though I very seldom order them because they are so expensive that I can't afford to pay for them myself, and I feel guilty about requesting them when someone else is footing the bill. 

The same problem applies to cooking lamb at home. With the exception of the occasional package of ground lamb that I've managed to find on sale, lamb typically remains firmly outside of our budget. However, when I received the enormous Thanksgiving supplement to this week's grocery store sale bill, I happened to spot a decent price on lamb shoulder chops. As it turned out, I had a recipe for that very same cut of meat saved to my Pinterest board, so now seemed like the perfect time to try my luck.

The recipe also happened to call for most of the same fresh herbs that I had already purchased for my shrimp experiment, which was an added advantage. I would be able to make two dinners from the same herb purchase before stashing the leftovers in the freezer, and any time you can make better use of the ingredients you already have on hand is a good thing, if you ask me.

Chopping all of the herbs for the gremolata, an Italian condiment made of citrus zest and minced herbs, was the most time consuming part of this dish by far, but the wonderful aromas drifting from my cutting board made it seem like short work. Soon, it was time to toss the lamb into the pan, and I followed the directions precisely, even using a meat thermometer to ensure proper cooking. The chops looked beautiful on the plate, if slightly under-browned from cooking so quickly.

However, when we cut into the meat, we were greeted by a disaster of epic proportions. The lamb had failed to cook evenly, resulting in pockets that were a lovely medium-rare, and other parts that were so raw we had to toss them in the microwave just to make them edible. The meat was riddled with gristle, bone fragments, and huge chunks of fat. By the time we cut it all away, there was little actual meat left to eat, and we both ended the meal so hungry that we had to supplement our dinners with leftovers from the fridge. I'm not sure what lamb shoulder chops are usually used for, but this was clearly not it.

I felt like a huge failure, but Justin did his best to make me feel better. He pointed out that I generally have a very high success rate with my forays into the culinary unknown, and that he appreciates my desire to put nice meals on the table for us, and that I'm always willing to try something new, even if it doesn't always work out. Since he's the one who has to eat most of my cooking (besides me), I am thankful that he feels that way. We really are a perfectly matched set, and I am so lucky to have him in my life.

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