Braised Lamb Neck With Leek, Fennel and Peas

Serves 6

  • 6 slices lamb neck, 1.-inch-thick
  • Kosher salt
  • Olive oil
  • 4 medium leeks, trimmed and washed; whites and tender greens sliced
  • 3 cloves garlic, peeled and smashed
  • 2 sprigs fresh tarragon
  • 2 sprigs parsley
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 3 wide strips of orange peel
  • 1 cup dry white wine
  • 2–3 cups warmed chicken stock
  • 2 bulbs of fennel, trimmed and cut lengthwise into 6–8 wedges each; pretty fronds reserved for garnish
  • ½ cup thawed frozen peas, or blanched fresh peas
  • Cooked barley

For Garnish

  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • Chopped tarragon
  • Chopped fennel fronds
  • Grated orange zest

Preheat oven to 325°. Season the lamb necks with salt. Heat 2 tablespoons olive oil over medium-high heat in a deep, heavy pot or casserole large enough to cozily accommodate the lamb pieces. Brown lamb on all sides. Remove to a plate and set aside. Add another tablespoon or more of olive oil and add leeks and garlic with a good pinch of salt. Lower heat and sauté the leeks until softened without browning. Add the wine and raise heat, stirring and scraping up browned bits, and reducing liquid slightly. Return lamb to pot, with sprigs of tarragon, parsley, the bay leaf, and orange peel. Add enough chicken broth to come halfway up the sides of meat. Cover pot and cook in oven for 1 hour.

Meanwhile, heat a slick of olive oil in a sauté pan over medium-high heat. Add the fennel wedges and season lightly with salt. Cook, turning once, just to add color as the fennel will further cook with the lamb. Remove from pan and set aside.

After 1 hour, remove lid from lamb and slide in the fennel, poking in and around the lamb. Cover and cook 45 minutes to an hour more, or until the lamb is very tender. Remove lamb and reserve covered if you desire to spoon off any surface fat, or reduce broth. Stir in the peas to warm. Return lamb if reserved. Taste to adjust seasoning. Serve the lamb, vegetables, and broth in bowls over barley. Sprinkle with the chopped tarragon, fennel fronds, orange zest and black pepper.