Braised Lamb Shoulder Chops with Capers, Balsamic Vinegar, and Red Peppers

Typically, we find lamb shoulder chops to be a tough cut of meat and benefit from a longer braise. However, Cook’s Illustrated tried a much shorter braise than usual for this lamb chop recipe—just enough to cook the meat. After only 15 to 20 minutes, they claimed the lamb was tender, but we beg to differ.  

Our initial concerns at the short amount of time (15 to 20 minutes originally) the lamb chops cooked were well-founded. After 20 minutes, they were still tough and we added another 10 minutes to the braise. In fact, they could have used even more time to tenderize. In the past, we’ve always braised them, covered over low heat for 2 hours, until they were fall-apart tender.

The much-anticipated caper and red pepper sauce with the deglazing liquid was delicious! Because we only cooked two chops, there was some sauce leftover which we made good use of on some pork chops the following day. Our pairings for the lamb included a side salad and a recent new potato fave, Crispy Parmesan Potatoes.


  • Servings: 4
  • Difficulty: easy
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  • 4 lamb shoulder chops, about 3/4 inch thick, trimmed of external fat
  • Salt and ground black pepper
  • 2 Tbsp. olive oil
  • 1 small onion, chopped fine
  • 1 red bell pepper, seeded and diced small
  • 2 small cloves garlic, minced
  • ⅓ cup dry red wine
  • 1 cup canned tomatoes packed in puree, chopped
  • 2 Tbsp. minced fresh parsley leaves
  • 2 Tbsp. capers, drained
  • 2 Tbsp. balsamic vinegar


  1. Sprinkle chops with salt and pepper to taste.
  2. Heat 1 tablespoon of the oil in 12-inch heavy-bottomed nonreactive skillet over medium-high heat. Cooking in 2 batches to avoid overcrowding, add 2 chops; sauté until brown on both sides, 4 to 5 minutes. Remove from pan; set aside. Repeat.
  3. Pour fat from pan; return pan to medium heat, adding remaining tablespoon of oil. Add onion and pepper; sauté until softened, about 4 minutes.
  4. Add garlic; cook until fragrant, about 1 minute longer.
  5. Add wine; simmer until reduced by half, scraping browned bits from pan bottom with wooden spoon, 2 to 3 minutes.
  6. Stir in tomatoes, then return chops to pan. Reduce heat to low; cover and simmer until chops are cooked through but tender, at least 30 minutes.
  7. Transfer chops to each of four plates. Stir parsley, capers, and balsamic vinegar into braising liquid; simmer until sauce thickens, 2 to 3 minutes. Adjust seasonings, spoon portion of sauce over each chop, and serve.

Adapted from a recipe by Cook’s Illustrated

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