Trust the French to improve Irish stew by first browning the chops and onions, then cooking them in stock with sprigs of thyme, calling them Côtes d’Agneau Champvallon. The resulting dish is grandmother’s pride, a full meal that needs very little attention.

Serves 4
4 lamb chops with bone (about 2 lb/900 g)
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
3 tablespoons/45 g butter
2 large onions, thinly sliced
2 garlic cloves, chopped
6 potatoes, thinly sliced (about 2 lb/900 g)
Small bunch of fresh thyme
3-4 tablespoons chopped parsley
Salt and pepper
1 quart/1 liter veal or lamb stock, more if needed
Large skillet or shallow flameproof casserole

1. Heat the oven to 350˚F/180˚C. Trim excess fat from the chops. Heat the oil and half the butter in the skillet and thoroughly brown the chops on both sides over medium-high heat. Remove them and discard all but 2 tablespoons of fat. Add the onions and fry until well browned, stirring occasionally, 10-12 minutes. Stir in the garlic, then tip the onions into a large bowl. Set aside about a quarter of the potatoes. Add the thyme sprigs, 2 tablespoons of the parsley, salt and pepper to the remaining potatoes and stir to mix well.

2. Spread half the herb and potato mixture in the skillet. Add the chops, pushing them down into the potatoes and cover with the remaining vegetable mixture. Arrange the reserved potatoes on top in a neat pattern and pour in enough stock almost to cover them. Dot them with the remaining butter.

3. Bake the skillet, uncovered, until the potatoes and chops are very tender when pierced with a two-pronged fork, 45-60 minutes. The top of the potatoes should be golden brown and most of the liquid should have been absorbed so don’t hesitate to cook for a few more minutes if necessary. Crispy brown potatoes and rich gravy are important. Sprinkle the dish with the remaining parsley and serve in the skillet.