|I like a pasta bowl for lamb shanks and sides…sit them up in the rutabagas to show them off.|
If you’re a bit unsure about lamb shanks… what they are or how to cook them, here’s the deal: they’re pretty much like cooking a tiny pot roast on a big old bone. Whatever treatment you’ve given beef chuck roast is probably going to work with lamb shanks–which are from way up on the lamb’s leg. Since the meat is tough, it needs to be braised (cooked in liquid) and the braising liquid of choice is often wine, though it needn’t be. A stiff stout would work, as would broth, tomatoes, cider and water…whatever floats your shanks. Add root vegetables and/or onions, celery, garlic, and you’ve an entire meal. Even just onions and wine with a bit of dried rosemary will give you something well worth eating. Most recipes call for two lamb shanks per person; there isn’t a lot of meat on one. I find that given the vegetables and sauce inevitably cooked with them that one is plenty.
I start lamb shanks on top of the stove and finish them in the oven, cutting off about a 1/2 hour cooking time compared to all oven braising. They can also be done totally on top of the stove, paring down the cooking time even more to about an hour total. Because I wanted a simple rutabaga mash as a base, I cooked the rutabaga separately stove top just like you would mashed potatoes, except I added fresh ginger and garlic to the cooking water. You could certainly cook the rutabaga in the pot with the meat for ease of preparation; add them for the oven time only. Or, if you wanted, you could mix up a bit of couscous (in place of the rutabaga) while the lamb rests or even make a salad in place of green beans. I added potatoes mostly because I wanted them for the next day stew. It won’t take much (and actually there are vegetables in the sauce) to finish this meal. Then, there’s
way fast shanks in the microwave
If you’re interested in under an hour (really), folks have also been microwaving lamb shanks with great success since 1989 thanks to THE NEW BASICS COOKBOOK (Workman, 1989) written by Silver Palate gurus Julee Rosso and Sheila Lukins. These shanks are done in 30 minutes. Just for fun, here’s the info for microwaving the shanks: (And by the way, I microwave my chuck roasts for chimichangas.)
In a 2 qt microwave-safe casserole, cook 2T olive oil at full power for 2 minutes. Stir in 1 cup chopped red bell pepper, 3/4 c chopped onion, 2 cloves minced garlic, 2 sprigs rosemary (1/2 t dried), 1/2 tsp salt, freshly ground black pepper, 3/4 cup dry red wine, and 1T tomato paste. Cook, uncovered, 5 min. Remove 1/2 of the vegetable mixture and set it aside. Lightly oil 3 small lamb shanks with a bit more olive oil and sprinkle them with salt and pepper. Arrange shanks in a triangle over the vegetables remaining in the casserole. Cover, and cook for 20 min. Turn the shanks and cook another 10 min. Spoon the reserved vegetables over the shanks, cover, and cook 2 minutes. Remove the casserole from the microwave, and let it stand for 5 minutes before serving. Serves 2-3.
Still a great all-purpose cookbook. ( above recipe courtesy THE NEW BASICS)
If you’d like to try them my way, do what Dave and I did: put on some great music, pour yourself a glass of wine, and throw this in the oven to braise while you put your feet up and talk through the day. While you can sure eat lamb shanks alone, they’re worth sharing. And, wonder of wonders, if you didn’t eat the third lamb shank, you can make a beautiful stew next day…recipe down below.
While the French like Bordeaux with lamb, I am partial to a softer, rounder wine here like Burgundy (Oregon Pinot Noir to be exact; good French Burgundy is out of my price range generally speaking) or a (red) French Côtes du Rhône, which is a Grenache blend. These wines, for my palate, compliment the softer, sweeter notes in the root vegetables. So, yes, you’ll need two bottles of wine for this meal. One for you and one for the pot. (Not a bad deal.) Ask your wine shop about an inexpensive–under $15– Côtes du Rhône; there are lots of tasty values. The Oregon Pinot will be pricier for the most part (though there are some $20-$30 bottles), but really worth it for a splurge or birthday. These wines will be $40-$50 and up and are often cellared for several years before drinking. So if you head toward the Pinot for you to drink, pick up something less expensive for the pot. Which ones: I love most Oregon Pinots, but have soft spots for Prive, Ken Wright and Sineann,
alyce’s lamb shanks with mashed ginger rutabaga, new potatoes, and lemon-crumbed green beans serves 2-3
|Raw lamb shank|
|Let them brown well on each side|
- 3-4 lamb shanks
- 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
- 1/2 t each kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper (plus extra for vegetables)
- 4T olive oil, divided
- 3 cups chopped onions
- 2 stalks celery, with leaves, chopped
- 4 large carrots, trimmed
- 3 cloves garlic, whole
- 1 750 ml bottle red wine; I like Cotes du Rhone
- 2 cups chicken stock
- 1 6 oz can tomato paste
- 1t Herbes de Provence
- 1 large sprig fresh rosemary
- 1 bay leaf
- 3 sprigs fresh thyme
- Pinch crushed red pepper
- 1 large rutabaga, trimmed and peeled
- 6-8 small red potatoes (No recipe given for steaming potatoes or beans.)
- 2-3 cups fresh green beans
- 1/4 cup fresh bread crumbs
- 1t butter
- 1/2 t grated lemon rind
- 2t chopped fresh parsley
- Mix flour with salt and pepper in a shallow, large bowl. Place one shank at a time in the bowl and, using your hands, cover with the flour-salt-pepper mixture. Repeat with remaining shanks.
- Meantime, heat over medium heat 2T of the olive oil in a heavy, oven-safe pot (you’ll need a lid or heavy-duty aluminum foil; this must be covered). Place the shanks in the pot and let brown well–10 minutes. Turn over and brown the other side. Remove shanks from pan and set aside.
- Add remaining 2T olive oil, heat and add vegetables (onions, celery, carrots, garlic), sprinkle with a bit of salt and pepper, and saute briefly–5 minutes or so. Add herbs– bay, rosemary, thyme, the tiny bit of crushed red pepper, and Herbes de Provence. Pour in wine and chicken stock and bring to a boil.
4. Return lamb shanks to the pan. Reduce heat to a simmer. Cover and cook on stovetop 30 minutes. Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.
5. Place covered pot in oven and bake another hour or so until meat is quite tender…maybe even coming off the bone if you like it like that. (Meantime, make the rutabaga mash (see below for recipe) new potatoes and green beans–no recipe provided for these. I do like a bit of bread crumbs with lemon and pepper on my beans. What I do is throw a piece of great white baguette in the food processor and then toast those crumbs in a bit of butter and grated lemon peel. When the beans are steamed and salted, and peppered, I top them with the lemon-crumb mixture)
Making a sauce and serving up:
1. Remove the cooked shanks to a warm dish and cover. Place back in oven to keep warm while you make the sauce and mash the rutabagas.
|Cover and return to oven to keep warm while you make the sauce.|
2. In the pan you should have a 1/2 pot of lovely gravy with soft carrots, onions, and so on. If you can do it, spoon off a bit of the fat and remove the small sticks leftover from the rosemary and thyme. Taste and see if it needs seasoning. If you have an immersion blender, haul out the power tools and blend this sauce a bit—as smooth as you’d like. If no immersion blender, you can carefully transfer some of the sauce and veggies to a food processor or simply mash away with a potato masher. Taste again and adjust seasoning if needed.
3. In a large shallow bowl, place half of the rutabaga mash and carefully sit a lamb shank, bone up, in the mash, so that it stands at attention. Spoon a generous serving of sauce on meat and mash. Repeat with the remaining serving(s).
4. Add steamed potatoes and green beans, if serving. Garnish with chopped parsley.
5. Serve hot. Let leftovers cool completely, cover well, and refrigerate 1-2 days until you make stew.
mashed ginger rutabaga 2 servings
|Cut up the cooked new potatoes for the stew; they go in toward the end or they’ll disintegrate.|
- 2T olive oil
- 1 fennel bulb, trimmed, cored, and sliced into 1/4-1/2″ moons
- 1/2 large turnip, peeled and diced
- 3 large carrots, peeled and diced
- 6 large mushrooms, quartered
- 2 cups chicken broth
- 1/2 cup water
- Leftover lamb braising sauce
- Leftover new potatoes, cut up
- Leftover lamb, cut off the bone and chopped finely
- 1/2 cup chopped parsley
- Drop or two of hot sauce if needed
- salt and pepper to taste
- To an 8 qt stock pot, add olive oil and heat over medium heat. Add fennel, turnip, carrots and mushrooms. Cook for 5-7 minutes until just softening and beginning to brown a bit.
- Pour in broth, water, and braising sauce and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and add potatoes, and lamb.
- Let cook until vegetables are quite tender…20-30 minutes. Taste and adjust seasoning, adding salt, pepper, or hot sauce as needed.
- Serve hot garnished with parsley and with some baguette for dunking.
two dog kitchen and what else I’ve been cooking:
|I blogged this on my other blog, Dinner Place, The Solo Cook|
|When do we get to walk? This computer stuff is getting old, Mom.|
|Testing a new bread machine.|
|Leftover grilled chicken with pomegranate seeds, berries and cabbage-spinach salad with sherry vinaigrette|
|Zabaglione…will make again and blog…|
|Chickadees, in bitter cold, grab seeds and break them with their beaks while standing on metal feeders. Brr. You think you have food problems.
Sing a new song, and cook lamb!