Tuesday, September 06, 2005

Lamb Shanks at Long Last

I adore lamb shanks. I love the melting sinew, the tender flesh, the deep taste of the marrow. And like duck, it has gone from being a restaurant-order treat to being an everyday home cooked meal for me. When I first began to experiment with shanks, most of the recipes were tomato based in one way or another. It got to the point that Figman said that if he came home and smelt tomatoes and shanks cooking *he’d look very pathetic*.

So I hunted around and picked up my copy of the River Cafe Cook Book, which I bought ages ago and has sat, mostly unopened, on my shelf since then. I found a recipe for Shinco di Agnello. I floured and seasoned the shanks and browned them on each side in a heavy bottomed stockpot. I would not bother flouring again – it was unnecessary, messy and the flour remnants burnt in the pan – I had to clean it out before doing the second batch of browning.

I took the shanks and dumped them on a plate. Caramelized an onion or so, with the peel of an orange, sliced into thick enough pieces so the Figman, who hates fruit in his food, could recognise them and take them out (this didn’t actually happen but it was a tender thought on my part). 200ml Simon Johnson organic balsamic vinegar, juice of the orange and water to cover.

The recipe called for an oven and some red wine, but I put it to simmer on the stove top due to the unsuitability of the oven and the wine. I asked Figster to bring home a Shiraz Cabernet as this struck me as the appropriate wine for this sauce – something with flavour but not as strong as a Cab Sav. And while I love Pinot Noir and lamb, I felt the delicacy of pinot would be lost in this sauce.

The shanks simmered away for a couple of hours. Eventually when it arrived, I added half a bottle of red wine and left it to cook a bit more.

Absolutely delicious. And not a tomato in sight!

(There is no photo of this dish because it was so scrumptious, we gobbled it all up before I could take one. And I wrote a post about this days ago but the Internet ate it up!)

6 Comments:

At 3:50 PM, Anonymous joey said...

I also love lamb shanks! This sounds great! Unfortunately for me, it has never made the transition from "restaurant" to "home"...but your post has encouraged me to make the attempt one day...

One of my favorite places serves it roasted (instead of braised) with lots of olive oil, garlic, pepper, and some herbs...simply delicious and a wonderful way to enjoy lamb shanks :-)

 
At 6:46 PM, Blogger plum said...

Oh Joey, it is so easy! honestly, if you can fry some onions and pour various liquids in a pan, you can do this! It has to left for several hours - I often cook it for 4 to 6 hours - but it's just brown the lamb, cook up some onions (sometimes I add garlic), throw in any herbs (rosemary and bay are great), and then vinegar, wine and dare I say it - a tin of tomatoes!

I love it roasted as well, when the outside of the lamb shank is all dry and delightful and then you bite through into the soft soft inside. Yum yum yum.

 
At 12:04 PM, Anonymous Barbara said...

I confess also "I've never cooked lamb shanks". Ahh but one day I will.

 
At 12:30 PM, Blogger Niki said...

Lamb shanks, whether roasted or braised or stewed are fantastic. I love that gooey, sticky feeling.
I have a recipe that worked really well for me for braised lamb shanks with green olives and anchovies....it uses about 12 anchovies, which melt into the sauce of red wine and chicken stock. The final sauce doesnt' taste fishy at all, and the whole dish had rave reviews. And no tomatoes there! It's cut into my cooking scrapbook, but I think it came from an old Gourmet Traveller magazine...

 
At 8:14 PM, Blogger plum said...

Mmmm, anchovies and lamb are one of the best food pairs! I have to thank Jamie Oliver for putting me onto that one. TV chefs get a lot of flak, but honestly, there are so many things I wouldn't have picked up without them.

 
At 2:01 PM, Anonymous din said...

The wine and orange in this dish remind me of the only dish I've cooked from my cheap copy of Escoffier's 'Ma Cuisine'; provencal style daube of ox tail. The meat was marinated in (lots of) red wine, brandy, onions, garlic and quarte epices (white pepper, nutmeg, clove and ginger). Then the next day browned with some bacon and the onions, then cooked slowly for five hours. Must do this again soon

 

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