Last year my sister gave me a cook book called Earth to Table by Jeff Crump and Bettina Schormann and this week I decided I would make something from this book. I have mentioned this book before but it’s worth mentioning again. The thing I like about this book is that it is broken down into the seasons and there is a focus on supporting local farmers and suppliers. I looked in the winter chapter and the braised lamb shanks called to me. One of the reasons it called to me was the introductory paragraph that encourages people to try some of the cheaper cuts of meat. So many people just buy rack of lamb and leg of lamb but there are many other parts of the body that could be used if cooked properly and the shanks are a perfect example of taking a cheaper cut of meat and turning it into a mouth watering, fall off the bone dish.
I received rave reviews for this dinner and I’m sure you will too if you choose to make it sometime. It is definitely a meal you’d be proud to serve to guests. (One of my main success measurements!)
Lamb shanks are easy to find at your butcher and when I was looking for mine, it was surprising to see how meaty they were. The butcher we get our meats from had them prepackaged in fours so I purchased the package, with the idea that we’d have some leftovers to give to mom. However, in the past I have been able to purchase the exact number I wanted to use. As it turned out, there was enough left over to leave three more meals in the freezer for later use.
This recipe can be found on page 250 of Earth to Table:
- 4 small lamb shanks (each about 8 oz).
- Salt and freshly cracked black pepper
- 3 Tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
- 4 cloves garlic – minced
- 2 stalks celery, roughly chopped
- 1 carrot, roughly chopped
- 1 onion, roughly chopped
- 1 leek, roughly chopped (white and light green parts only)
- 1 prig fresh thyme (I used dried thyme leaves 1 tsp.)
- 1 sprig fresh rosemary
- 1 dried bay leaf
- 2 cups dry red wine
- 4 cups beef stock
1. Generously season lamb with salt and pepper. In a large skillet, heat oil over high heat until smoking. Add lamb and cook, turning, until golden brown on all sides, about 10 minutes. Using tongs, transfer lamb to large Dutch oven and set aside.
2. Reduce heat to medium and add garlic, celery, carrot, onion, leek, thyme, rosemary, and bay leaf to the pan. Sauté until vegetables are golden brown, about 8 minutes. Add wine and cook, scraping up any brown bits from the bottom of the pan, until reduced by half, about 5 minutes. Add stock and bring to a boil. Meanwhile, preheat oven to 325 degrees.
3. Pour everything over lamb. (Liquid should cover shanks; if it doesn’t, add water or more stock until covered.) Cover and bake, turning every 20 minutes, until meat is very tender and yields easily when pierced with a knife, about 3 hours. Remove meat, strain sauce, and reduce by ½. Serve lamb in a shallow dish dressed with sauce, ideally with the drunken port onions.
**note: I added a parsnip to the list of vegetables, and I also added a teaspoon of dry mustard to the sauce. I did not turn the shanks over every 20 minutes but left them the full 3 hours to bake undisturbed. I also did not strain the sauce. I thought the vegetables served with the meat was a better way to use the goodness of the sauce. You can’t see too many vegetables in this photo, but you can see some of them and the onions on the right hand side of the plate.
Again, its hard to see in this photo but I put a healthy scoop of sautéed onions with
celery root (Celeriac) on the plate and then rested the lamb shank on top. It is edible raw or cooked, and tastes similar to the stalks (the upper part of the stem) of common celery cultivars. Celeriac may be roasted, stewed, blanched, or mashed. I cooked it and mashed it with some sautéed onions for this dish. If you are looking for it in the store, you might not know what it is.
Here’s a photo of it as you’d see it in the grocery store:
Although it can be substituted for potatoes, it does not have any starch in it. Everyone who has eaten this at our place has really liked it. It does have a unique flavour, but one that is very pleasant.
You need to trim off all of the nobly parts so that it looks more like a turnip than the photo above:
Chop it up like you would a turnip and put it in a pan filled with cold water.
Set the heat on high and bring to a boil. Once boiling, turn the heat down to medium low and cook for approximately 15 minutes. It should be soft when you poke it with a fork. Drain and mash them like you would make mashed potatoes. I usually only add a couple of tablespoons of butter with some sea salt and pepper.
Thinly slice some onions and sauté them in some butter. I usually sauté them until they are caramelized. Once the onions are done, stir them into the mashed celery root and you will have a fabulous vegetable.
I placed the lamb shank on this and then spooned the sauce and vegetables from the braised shanks over top of everything. It was delicious, at least a 9 out of 10!
Dessert was a simple one. I had some meringues in the freezer so I put one on each plate and a scoop of vanilla ice cream and then spooned some stewed rhubarb and strawberries over the top. It was a delicious and sweet way to finish this hearty meal.
We were all very satisfied at the end of dinner this week. The main meal was rich and hearty and dessert was light and sweet. I think we touched on most of the taste senses by the time we finished our Sunday Night Dinner. It was definitely worth the wait! This was a meal that was gluten-free and lactose free due to the fact that I used lactose free ice cream. (Who knew there was such a thing??)
By the way…there was so much sauce left over from the meat dish, that I saved it and I’m thinking I’ll make a soup out of the leftovers. We have a sailing trip planned for next weekend so I’m thinking a hearty soup would be a great lunch to share with our friends who have invited us along.
Please feel free to pass this blog address around to your friends and come back and join us next week for Sunday Night Dinner at Julia’s Place.