Braised Lamb Shanks

   Today is probably one of the last days I can cook this kind of hearty dinner, it being so rainy and cool. Seems we’re having a Real Spring in NY!
I’ve been wary of the Lamb Shank in the past because I found the casing surrounding the shank to be weird. But I’ve cooked a variation of this dish once before and found out that with a long slow braise this casing turns tender and rather unnoticeable. Don’t fear the shank.
To braise means to cook something, usually meat, in a small amount of liquid after it’s been browned in fat in a pot with a tight fitting lid on the range or in an oven.This recipe was prepared on the range because my toaster oven couldn’t possibly accommodate a big pot.

This recipe feeds 2 and takes about 2 and a half hours from chopping board to dinner bowl.
This meal’s ingredients cost under 12 dollars,not counting the alcohol.
2 big untrimmed lamb shanks,browned on both sides for 6 minutes each side or until nice and brown
3 carrots,chopped
3 ribs celery,chopped
4 cloves chopped garlic,mashed and diced
1 shallot,chopped fine
1 onion,chopped fine
2 stalks of green onion,chopped
2 sprigs of rosemary,whole
2 generous splashes of extra virgin olive oil
2 tsps strawberry preserves
fresh black ground pepper
dash of paprika
1 container of chicken stock
A bit of alcohol
2 cups of red wine
1 splash dry sherry
1 splash brandy,to deglaze the browning pan

In large frying pan:
Heat, add olive oil.
Season shanks with salt and freshly ground black pepper,place in frying pan, brown on both sides, about 6 to 7 minutes each side.

in large heavy pot with tight fitting lid
Heat on medium high add olive oil, add onion, saute until sweaty.
Add celery,carrots,green onion and shallots.
Splash in dry sherry, the vegetables will absorb very fast.
Add wine and chicken stock and strawberry preserves stir well to blend in preserves,turn heat slightly higher and let reduce for about 6-7 minutes.
Submerge shanks in the liquid-it should come about halfway up the sides of the shanks.
Stir in chopped garlic.
Add rosemary sprigs.
Deglaze the pan you browned the shanks in with the splash of brandy and let a high heat burn off the alcohol.
Spoon 2 tsps of the resulting liquid over the shanks and sprinkle them with paprika.
Reduce heat to low and cover. Braise for 2 hours.
Extra meal ideas, not that I am trying to run your life or anything!
Eat with rice or some ribbons of lasagne noodles cut in half down the middle with the shanks and their sauce poured over. We’re having basmati rice because we made it a day ago and I am trying to use leftovers instead of throwing them out. You could optionaly add some peeled and cubed potatoes at the start if you don’t want to bother with rice or noodles.Or you could prepare garlic mashed potaotoes.Ohhh,garlic mashed potatoes…

Absolutely the best Apple Pie,ever.

What a bold statement that is. But even more shocking was that this was my 1st attempt at pie baking. Obviously, I am a genius.OK,I can’t take all the credit.I did look up how to make a pie as I hadn’t much of a clue beyond that I knew I needed crust and stuff to put in a crust and then bake it.

What I really wanted to make was a crumble and apple pie combination.

I found a good recipe on that I used as a guide.

To start you will need a premade graham cracker crust or regular pastry pie crust and a 350 degree oven.

The apple filling:

6 Macintosh apples, peeled and cored and sliced into wedges.

2 tbs of milk.

2 tbs of white all purpose flour.

3/4 cinnamon

Dash of nutmeg.

Some pear juice, about 1/4 a cup.I used Looza’s pear juice instead of lemon juice.
dash vanilla extract
1/4 cup of sugar.

1/2 cup brown sugar (mine had gone hard so into the microwave with a cup of water and soon it was soft)

In a large bowl toss apples with all the ingredients in list above. Spoon into pie crust.

The topping:

4-6 oz walnuts in pieces or pecans (walnuts are better I think)

4 tbs butter

4 tbs brown sugar

2 tbs flour

little squeeze of honey

another little dash of cinnamon

Squeeze in the little bit of little honey, mix up and refrigerate.

After the pie has baked one hour take it out and spoon the topping into the center. As it melts it will spread out. If you want it to cover more pie spread it out-but be warned if you used a lot of wet ingredients for the filling, ie juice, the pie will probably spill over as it cooks.This happened to me but didn’t affect the outcome as it was the best apple pie I’d ever tasted.

Wednesday evening, 2 quiches later…

I got the crazy idea that I should make quiche.Because I never have. So off to the store to get the ingredients. One potentially fatal flaw to the quiche outcome was that the local store had only ready made graham cracker pie shells for sale. I grabbed them anyway.To hell with first time quiche and pie shell making at the same time? I am not stupid you know.So the crusts were a bit sweet- it didn’t kill us. It made us stronger.

I made 2 quiche:one with cheese, onion and mushroom- the other with cheese, broccoli and onion. Our toaster oven could only fit one quiche at a time and the mushroom was the one I made first so that is the one we ate for dinner.The broccoli sits in the fridge,unmolested for now.

Although it was 100% vegetarian the mushroom quiche was highly edible. That and a side of brussels sprouts was plenty for 2 folks and we are almost done with our first week of less red meat more (antibiotic free or kosher) chicken and vegetable diet.We haven’t eaten red meat since the lamb and lentil stew I wrote of a hundred years ago (last week).

The unfortunate side affect of a more vegetable laden diet is gas. Allegedly less meat is supposed to free up the bowel and freshen the breath-but all we have noticed so far is gas and greener pee. Wondrous!

Continue reading Wednesday evening, 2 quiches later…

Mushroom lentil lamb stew with rosemary and wine

I love to make soup but it’s only recently gotten to be perfect soup weather. My soup making tends toward stews. I want lots of stuff in the pot- not lots of broth.

Last night I went to my local store and saw they recently upgraded their vegetable and produce aisle to a much better selection and presentation. Good going Bravo, thank you! I can now more easily stick to my pledge to eat more vegetables.

Determined to eat less red meat as we are we still had to deal with the pound of roasted lamb lingering in our fridge pre less red meat pact. It was a little overcooked and really not that eatable all by itself. Perfect for reincarnation in a stew.

I bought lentils and celery,onions and garlic,2 kinds of mushrooms,although I only used Baby Bella for this recipe. Baby carrots,again, but no shallots;Bravo hasn’t upgraded that much.I used that bottle of cab,that famous 8 dollar too sweet to drink wine.I also cheated with a whole can of low sodium vegetable broth.One day I will make my own stock.

We had rosemary on hand and I debated throwing in parsley but didn’t.

This stew was very easy to make.

Chop onions. Heat on high large deep pot with a heavy bottom. A heavy bottom pot is best because we will be reducing wine and don’t want to burn it. Pour in olive oil-just a splash or maybe two splashes. Throw in onions- stir them and watch them, on this high heat they may burn-cook on high for 2 minutes then reduce heat. Chop celery and lamb(You can use raw lamb or beef or chicken or any of those,pre cooked) toss in with onions.

Let all that cook for a bit.Then turn the heat back to high and pour in the red wine.I didn’t measure but I am pretty sure I put in a good cup and a half! You will have to pay attention to this part.You’ll want to notice how high in the pot the wine was before it started reducing and then turn the heat back down when it has reduced almost entirely.Then pour in a cup of vegwetable stock or broth. Lucky you if you have the real thing on hand.

Chop up the whole package of Baby Bella mushrooms and add to pot. Put in about half a bag of baby carrots.You can use regular carrots, too, of course. I love how baby carrots look in the pot which is the reason I use them-that and I think they are sweeter. Rinse a half or quarter cup of lentils and throw in. Lentils are great because they expand when cooking and do not need to be soaked or peeled or shelled.The lentil is my potato substitute. You could use green or red, doesn’t matter, I happened to use green.

Tear off 2 large sprigs of rosemary and add to pot. Then chop garlic (I used 4 medium cloves) and add. Grind black pepper and add a healthy amount of paprika but be stingy with the salt.If you add the salt to the pot before you reduced the red wine you would stand the chance of having a very salty stew because for some reason reducing intensifies the saltiness.

I let this cook covered on low heat for as long as I could before my starving boyfriend lunged upon the pot and ate 3 bowls in a row (about an hour and a half).

The rosemary had a delicious nutty buttery taste to it. I had one large bowl but would have eaten more if A. had shown more restraint.

This stew would feed 3 people. A. eats for two most of the time although he is male and couldn’t possibly be pregnant. If I say so myself this was delicious.