This is the big, showy piece of meat you’ve been waiting for. The green garlic, citrus and yogurt contrast with the rich, heavy lamb, lending freshness to liven up the deep, braised flavor. And although any large cut of meat can seem intimidating to prepare, most of the work happens in the oven. The result is lamb so tender it’s almost jelly-soft.
You can either go bold and serve it on the bone or let it cool and tear it into shreddy shards, then toss those back into the braising liquid to warm. Important announcement: Crisp up any leftovers in a pan with neutral oil (or use the rendered lamb fat to fry a couple eggs and pop them on top) and add a crunchy salad for next night’s dinner.
To make the braised lamb: Pat the meat dry with paper towels and then season all over with salt. (If you can do this a day ahead and chill the lamb, great. If not, carry on.) Heat the oven to 325 degrees.
Pour ¼ cup of the olive oil into a heavy ovenproof pot, large enough to hold the lamb comfortably, and place it over medium-high heat. Add the lamb and sear all over, waiting until the underside has become deeply brown and caramelized before turning, 4 to 6 minutes per side (15 to 20 minutes total). You want the lamb to caramelize while rendering some of its fat. Using tongs, lift and transfer the lamb to a plate and set aside. Carefully tilt the fat out of the pot into a small bowl and save for another use, such as for cooking bitter greens or adding richness to a pot of brothy beans.
Return the pot to medium heat and pour in the remaining ¼ cup olive oil. Add the onions and green garlic and give them a stir so they get nicely coated in the oil. Cook, stirring occasionally, until they have taken on a golden brown color in spots (they won’t be soft, but that’s OK), 4 to 6 minutes.
Crush the orange peels and rosemary sprigs in your hands and scatter them over the onions and green garlic, along with the chiles and fennel seeds. Warm them a bit to release their aromas, 10 to 15 seconds, remove the pot from the stove and place the lamb back into the pot. Pour in the wine and chicken broth; the liquid should come just slightly above the halfway point on the side of the meat. If you need more, just add more broth, if you have it, or water.
Place the pot in the oven, uncovered, and braise the lamb, flipping it every 45 minutes or so to make sure it’s cooking evenly, until the liquid has slightly reduced and the meat is begging to pull away from the bone, 3 ½ to 4 hours. Using tongs, transfer the lamb to a cutting board and let rest for 20 to 30 minutes.
Strain the braising liquid into a medium saucepan, picking out and tasting a jammy onion or garlic clove that has been cooked to death but is still somehow satisfying. Give the braising liquid a taste; it will be on the oily side. The lamb will have rendered quite a bit of fat that you’ll want to skim mostly but not completely off. Although fat is flavor, too much fat can prevent you from tasting the other ingredients. At this point, you have a few options and I advise you to apply this technique with any braise you do. Serve the braising liquid on the side as a sauce for the lamb (as instructed here), save it for another meal or use it as a base for a soup or stew. Find your match. I tend to reduce the braising liquid over medium heat until it just barely coats the back of a spoon (10 to 15 minutes) but you can reduce it further, by half or more. Just remember, as the liquid reduces, the broth becomes richer and more concentrated in flavor and will go from barely coating the back of the spoon to clinging onto it for dear life. Pour the reduced liquid into a small pitcher for serving.
To make the pistachio yogurt: In a medium bowl, stir together the raisins, lemon juice and garlic. Let sit for 5 minutes to soften the raisins. Add the yogurt and pistachios and then season with salt. Give it all a stir.
When the lamb is cool enough to handle, pull or carve the meat into big shardy pieces and arrange them on a platter. Or, if you feel especially comfortable with your crowd, just put a knife and fork on the platter and let people tear into it. Pass the warm braising liquid to spoon over the lamb and the pistachio yogurt to dollop on top.
Get our new Cooking newsletter.
You may occasionally receive promotional content from the Los Angeles Times.