Thursday, May 01, 2008

Shanks a lot!

Hahahaha...gee I bet no one has EVER thought of that title before have they? That's why I'm here, to share all my very original thoughts with you. But my unoriginality is only to alert you to the pleasures that are to be had with the seasonal, ritual dismemberment of so many cute, fuzzy little lambies this spring....ahhhh, too bad they taste so darn good. Maybe there isn't a lamb God, after all!

Seeing as how I had a couple of shanks in the freezer from last year that needed to be taken advantage of before they became yet another unidentifiable freezer-burnt object to be tossed into the trash, and it would be an insult to the lamb who somewhere was walking around his grassy field on his two remaining legs, I decided to whip this delicious sounding braised lamb shank recipe I'd had my eye on for some time. Another epicurious find, this was rated at "96% would make it again", and considering the main ingredient, it seemed appropriate to follow the crowd like a lamb to the slaughter....okay, sorry, enough of that. What this did turn into was an exceptionally delicious pot of lamb-ey goodness that you will love, I promise. Even w and her lamb averse ways thought it rocked. So very easy to put together, and even more rewarding. Rich, savory, not heavy but so satisfying on the palate. We had it over polenta with gremolata sprinkled on top, which was about the best garnish you could hope for. I made this the day before and had it the next night, and it was awesome...all the flavors had come together perfectly. Make it soon, if not for you, then for all those cute little....oh, never mind....just get cooking!!
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Lamb Shanks with tomatoes and fresh herbs

"This is similar to the classic veal osso buco. Pancetta (available at Italian delis) adds a nice smokiness. Serve this over noodles, mashed potatoes, or polenta. Market tip: Small lamb shanks won't do — they're mainly bone — so get the largest, meatiest ones you can find (about 1 to 1 1/4 pounds each)."- Bon Appetit
Makes 4 servings.

2 teaspoons salt
2 teaspoons chopped fresh rosemary
2 teaspoons chopped fresh thyme
1 teaspoon fennel seeds
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/2 teaspoon ground coriander
4 large lamb shanks

3 tablespoons olive oil
2 to 3 ounces thinly sliced pancetta, cut into thin strips
1 1/2 cups chopped onion
1 cup chopped carrots
1/2 cup chopped celery
6 garlic cloves, chopped
3 3x1/2-inch strips lemon peel
2 small bay leaves
2 teaspoons chopped fresh thyme
2 cups dry white wine
2 cups drained canned diced tomatoes in juice
1 1/2 cups low-salt chicken broth

Gremolata: Mix the following three ingredients together in a small bowl
3 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
2 tablespoon grated lemon peel
2 finely chopped garlic cloves

Mix first 6 ingredients in small bowl; rub all over lamb. Let stand 30 minutes.

Browning the shanks

Preheat oven to 350°F. Heat oil in large ovenproof pot over medium-high heat. Add lamb and sauté until brown, turning with tongs, about 12 minutes; transfer to plate. Reduce heat to medium. Add pancetta and stir 1 minute. Add onion, carrots, and celery. Cover and cook until vegetables are soft, stirring occasionally, about 10 minutes.

Stirring in the vegetables, garlic and lemon peel

Mix in garlic; cook 1 minute. Mix in lemon peel strips, bay leaves, and thyme. Add wine and bring to boil, scraping up browned bits. Add tomatoes and broth. Return lamb to pot. Bring to boil; cover and transfer pot to oven.

Cook lamb until just tender, turning occasionally, about 1 1/2 hours. Remove pot from oven. Tilt pot and spoon off fat that rises to top of sauce. Place pot over medium heat and boil uncovered until sauce reduces enough to coat spoon and lamb is very tender, about 30 minutes. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Discard lemon peel and bay leaves. (Can be made 1 day ahead. Cool 30 minutes, chill uncovered until cold, then cover and keep chilled. Rewarm over low heat before continuing.)
Transfer lamb to large shallow bowl. Sprinkle with gremolata and serve.

The shanks ready to go into the oven

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