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Cider-Braised Lamb Shoulder with Yogurt and Apples or Quinces

Cider -Braised Lamb Shoulder with Yogurt and Apples or Quinces


From Good Meat

by Deborah Kasner


This recipe is best if you can find real, unpasteurized apple cider, but any cider is preferable to  sweetened apple juice.   Serve with rice, couscous, noodles, or mashed potatoes.  Serves 4.



1 ½ – 2 lbs. Lamb shoulder, bone-in or boneless

salt and fresh ground pepper

freshly squeezed lemon from ½ a lemon

1 teaspoon Dijon mustard

½ cup plain yogurt, preferably Greek

2 T. olive oil

1 onion, roughly chopped

1 whole head of garlic, each clove smashed

1 t. cinnamon

½ t. cardamom

¾ raw apple cider

1 bay leaf

1 c. chopped, peeled apple, or grated quinces


For Serving:

1 c. / person preferred starch

chopped fresh cilantro


chopped, toasted almonds



Rinse the meat, blot it dry, salt and pepper it lightly, and set aside on a rack.  Make the marinade by combining the lemon juice, mustard, and yogurt.  Coat the meat in the mixture, place it in a dish, and marinate it for 3 hours at room temperature, it the kitchen is cool, or in the refrigerator.


When you are ready to start cooking, scrape off the marinade and discard it. Blot the meat dry.  Heat the olive oil in a Dutch oven or other braising pot over medium heat and brown the meat on both sides, turning it only when it no longer sticks, about 5 minutes per side. Remove it from the pot and set aside.


In the same pot, slowly cook down the onion and garlic, stirring as needed until they start to color and turn golden about 10 minutes. Add the spices and cook for a minute or two, taking care not to burn them.  Add the apple cider and bay leaf, scrape the pot to incorporate any browned bits, and return the lamb to the pot.  Cover the braise with parchment or foil, place the lid on the pot, and simmer very gently for 2 hours.


Add the apples of quinces to the pot and simmer for another 30 minutes, or until the lamb is very tender.  Taste the liquid for seasonings and adjust, if necessary.


Prepare your preferred starch.


Remover the lamb from the pot and let it cool for 15 minutes.  Slice it thinly across the grain, and arrange it on a serving platter on top of rice, couscous, potatoes, or noodles.  Discard bay leaf.


Puree the pan sauce and solids together in a blender, immersion blender, food mill, etc.  Taste for seasonings and adjust, if necessary.  Pour this sauce over the sliced lamb and serve at once, garnish with cilantro, a dollop of yogurt, and a handful of almonds.