Braised Lamb with Mostarda Mantovana

Braised lamb is given notes of autumn when adorned and balanced with a sweet and sharp homemade mostarda Mantovana, an Italian take on quince chutney.

Quinces are one of Pittsburgh Chef Joey Hilty’s favorite things about the fall. While they are a bit more time-intensive than other fruits, the floral, vanilla-like flavor is well worth it. You can use the below mostarda recipe the same way you would chutney. If you’re feeling ambitious, make a larger batch when quince is in season, and you can use it year-round.

Braised Lamb Recipe


1/4 cup kosher salt
2 tbsp sugar
1 tsp fennel seeds
1 tsp black peppercorns
1 tsp allspice berries
2 cinnamon sticks
2 star anise pods
1 bone-in square-cut lamb shoulder (about 5 lb)
1/2 cup maple syrup
1 head garlic, halved crosswise


  1. Combine the salt with the sugar, fennel seeds, peppercorns, allspice, cinnamon, and star anise with about 2 quarts of water in a large pot. Bring to a rapid boil, stirring to dissolve the salt. Remove from the heat and allow the brine to cool completely.
  2. Put the lamb shoulder in a large (6- to 8-qt) container and pour the brine over the lamb. (Ideally, the lamb shoulder should be submerged, so weigh it with two plates. But if that’s impractical, cover the lamb with a clean cloth that’s saturated in the brine.) Refrigerate the lamb shoulder in the brine overnight or up to 48 hours.
  3. Preheat the oven to 475 degrees. Place a rack on a baking sheet. Drain the lamb and pat dry. Put the lamb on the rack and roast until well browned on the exterior, about 30 minutes. (Or sear the lamb over a medium-hot grill for 15 minutes until well browned on all sides and nicely charred in places.) Lower the oven to 300 degrees.
  4. Transfer the lamb shoulder to a large roasting pan. Mix the maple syrup with 8 cups water in a bowl and add to the pan. (The liquid should come about halfway up the shoulder; add water if needed.)
  5. Braise in the oven until the lamb shreds easily with a fork and the chickpeas are tender, about 5 hours. Let the lamb cool in its braising liquid in the refrigerator overnight.
  6. The next day, preheat the oven to 475 degrees. Add garlic to the pan with the lamb. Roast the lamb, uncovered, spooning the braising liquid over the lamb every 5 minutes, until the lamb is hot through and glazed with the liquid, about 30 minutes.
  7. Dress the braised lamb with your homemade Mostarda Mantovani for a delectable fall feast.

Mostarda Mantovana Recipe


1 lb quinces (approx 450 g), peeled, cored and thinly sliced
1 cup sugar (approx 225g)
*8 to 10 drops of mustard oil, depending how strong you prefer the mustard flavor


Day 1: In a pot, mix the quince slices with sugar and let macerate for 24 hours.

Day 2: Remove fruit sliced from the syrup. On low heat bring the syrup to boil and cook for 10 minutes. Add sliced fruit to the syrup and let macerate for another 24 hours.

Day 3: Repeat the process again.

Day 4: Bring fruit together with syrup to a boil and cook for a few minutes until lightly caramelized. Let cool completely. Add mustard oil and stir (*but since mustard oil is banned in the US, EU, and Canada, simmer 1/4 cup of white wine with 2 oz of mustard powder and dissolve). Pour onto the cooked fruit mixture.

Notes: If you don’t have quince, use slightly sour green apples for the Mostarda Mantovana. Weigh the fruit for the recipe after peeling, coring, and slicing.

Recipes by Joey Hilty, The Vandal / Photography Dave Bryce / Styling Keith Recker

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