Sunday, February 8, 2009

Braised Lamb Shanks

This past weekend, the Kitchen Genius went up to Vermont with my step-father, Tom, to get me some firewood (dear, sweet men!). I have a fire every single night from the beginning of October through the end of April and that means I blast through quite a stack of wood.

With K.G. away, I discovered something rather shameful about myself: I would most likely not be the foodie I am if he wasn’t around. This actually came as a surprise. I always thought I’d be the kind of person who would still cook lovely meals, even if I lived alone.

Since I’ve NEVER lived alone, the only thing I had to base this supposition on is the one week I spent alone in Vermont on a writing retreat. That week, after writing all day, I would could wonderful meals like steak au poivre and chicken stir-fry.

Well that certainly didn’t happen this weekend. In my defense, I’ve had a killer two weeks where every single minute was filled with work and more work. But still...

On Friday night my daughter and her boyfriend ate out, so that just left my son and me and he’s just too fussy to be fun to cook for. So I got Wendy’s takeout for him (totally horrible parenting!) and made an uninspired pepper and onion omelet for me.

On Saturday it was just Tommy and me again, so I got take-out clam chowder for both of us along with a salad for me and chicken fingers for him from the Hearth ‘n Kettle.

To make up for my transgressions, I made one of K.G.’s favorite dinners to welcome him home – lamb shanks. This is actually a dish he usually makes, but I’m proud to say that my first attempt turned out awesome.

My Mom and Tom joined us for dinner. Since Mom thinks lamb tastes musty like mold, she brought her own veggie macaroni and cheese casserole that she and Julie shared.

Today was so warm and sunny my Mom and I took a walk on Linnell Landing Beach after I put the lamb shanks in the oven. It was a bit chillier at the beach, but the whole time I was walking, I kept wondering why on earth don’t I do this every day? Here’s hoping for some more sunny days…

P.S. Don't forget to visit the post below and leave a comment to qualify for my Cape Cod Bag of Goodies Giveaway!

Braised Lamb Shanks

Serves 4

4 meaty lamb shanks
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 ten ounce package of pearl onions (about 3 dozen)
5 carrots
4 parsnips
3 cloves garlic
2 tablespoons tomato paste
2 cups red wine
2 cups beef stock
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon fresh cracked pepper
2 teaspoons fresh rosemary

Season lamb shanks with salt and pepper. Heat olive oil in skillet over medium high heat and brown lamb shanks on all sides. Place in a dark enamel roasting pan* (see note below). Meanwhile peel onions and leave whole. Peel carrots and parsnips and cut each one at an angle into thirds. Turn heat down to medium and add vegetables to the pan. Cook until lightly browned, about five minutes. Put veggies on top of lamb shanks. Tuck garlic cloves into pan.

Add wine to pan and deglaze with a whisk. Add beef stock and tomato paste and whisk until smooth. Stir in salt, pepper and rosemary. Pour over lamb shanks and vegetables. Cover tightly and bake at 350 degrees for two and a half hours or until meat is fall off the bone tender.

To make gravy, remove shanks and veggies from pan. Skim as much of the fat as you can with a spoon. Pour juices into a sauce pan and bring to a boil. Meanwhile put 2cups cold water and 1/2 cup flour in a gravy shaker and shake vigorously. (You might not need all of it, but I'd rather have too much than have to make more.) When juices are boiling, whisk about a quarter of a cup of the flour water into pan. Stir and bring to boil again. Continue doing this until the gravy is the consistency you prefer. Once it is thickened, continue to cook over medium high heat for two to three minutes to cook the flour. Pour gravy over lamb shanks and veggies. Serve with mashed potatoes.

*Things roast faster in dark enamel roasting pans, so if you don’t have one add up to an extra hour to the cooking time, testing to make sure meat is tender.

For a printable recipe click here


Ciao Chow Linda said...

Oh that looks soo good. I haven't had lamb shanks in an age but it's perfect weather for it. The beach looks lovely too.

Esi said...

This lamb looks so good! I have been trying to find other meats to cook with and lamb is usually reasonably priced. May have to try this!

Anonymous said...

How nice, I love this meal so perfect for winter and beautifully braised I might say.

Katherine Roberts Aucoin said...

What a hearty, perfect, winter meal Laurie! I love to walk on the beach in winter.

Cathy said...

Lamb shanks are a favorite here. Your recipe looks delish. Perfect for a winter evening.

Nice photos, too.

vanillasugarblog said...

oh you're not a bad mommy! That veggie mac & cheese looks sooo good. I'm not a huge lamb person. But I loved the photos. Walking on the beach does help a lot, but I'm just so cold lately, that I stopped going for walks and just re-joined the gym to do weights to help with this cabin fever.

Anonymous said...

mmm that looks great - I've been looking for a good lamb shanks recipe! Delicious! Very nice pics, too!

Anonymous said...

p.s., it's super funny that your mom thinks lamb tastes musty like mold! I can actually see what she means, although I guess I like the musty-ish taste!

Deb in Hawaii said...

I love lamb shanks and these look perfect. I miss an occasional good cold winter beach walk like I used to have occasionally in Oregon and Washington. Love your beach picture too.

Laurie said...

Thanks for all your comments! Right after I posted this, I read a beautiful description of lamb kabobs in Diana Abu-Jaber's wonderful memoir, "The Language of Baklava." Isn't this the most perfect description of the taste of lamb: "richly redolent, in its special way, of marrow and pepper. It's sizzles in your mouth and tastes faintly of the earth."

Love that!

The Blonde Duck said...

That looks fabulous!

Alicia Foodycat said...

Much respect for you peeling that many pearl onions! The lamb shanks look wonderful - such lovely sweet meat.