Tuesday, December 4, 2007

Mary Had a Little Lamb

Lamb shanks turn me on. Seriously. I see a recipe for lamb shanks and I’m there. A few Christmas‘s ago, I ordered ten lamb shanks for the family from Fresh Market and each was the size of my hand and halfway down my arm. I did a Mediterranean version with olives that was to die for. It did appear rather Henry VIII’ish on the plate…there was room for nothing else on the bone china. Pretty hilarious when you looked at the table, much less everyone in various stages of gnawing on their respective bones, or digging the marrow out with my great grandmother‘s silver, smearing the plate with their fingers.

I’ve done Moroccan takes on lamb shanks. I’ve substituted them for veal shanks in Osso Buco. I can eat a steak all day long. I just can’t do the veal thing anymore. It’s a neighbor’s fault. A good friend who has enough land to have cows in the suburbs and I drive past them four times a day. The big ones standing around in the field chewing and chewing and chewing, no problem. Fire up the grill.The little brown ones with the cute faces and gamboling around the fields. No way. Not going to do it. Thank God she doesn’t raise lamb.

When Whole Foods opened, Groom and I wandered in to make our appearance and check it out and they had beautiful lamb shanks very reasonably priced. Visions of Christmas past danced in my head and I started the recipe hunt. I didn’t want to do something I’d done before. I wanted interesting and different and even go so far as to get a bottle of wine specifically to go with the meal. I rarely do this, mainly because I usually don’t know what I am going to cook ahead of time. Being a Gemini, though, I do surprise myself sometimes.
The search was on and after surrounding myself with inspiration from Patricia Wells, Julia, Perla, Jennifer Hess, Joyce Goldstein (who ran a very close second this time), my main man Bobby Flay won. I had just bought his Mesa Grill Cookbook, opened it up and there it was. The perfect lamb shank meal. Do the whole recipe…the Sweet Potato Risotto with the Roasted Chanterelles is excellent with his Lamb Shanks with Serrano Vinegar Sauce. Josh at the Wine Shoppe in Green Hills paired a wonderful Domaine les Pailleres Gigondas with this and it was incredible. Having one oven made me organize myself just a bit. I roasted the sweet potato and the chanterelle mushrooms ahead of time, so I wouldn’t have to deal with opening the oven while the lamb shanks were braising happily away. This was such a success we did it for company this past weekend. Afterwards, Orangette’s wonderful Roasted Pears and Frank’s amazing Flourless Dark Chocolate Beast, lots of dancing in the living room and a grand Saturday evening was had by all.

Lamb Shanks with Serrano-Vinegar Sauce and Sweet Potato Risotto with Roasted Chanterelles from Mesa Grill Cookbook by Bobby Flay

This serves 2, so adjust accordingly.
3 tbsp olive oil
2 one pound lamb shanks
Coarse salt and freshly ground black pepper
½ large red onion, chopped
1 carrot, chopped
1 celery stalk, chopped
1 cup dry red wine ( I used Vigneti del Sole Montepulciano d‘Abruzzo 2006 a great dry red that is EASY on the pocketbook)
Fresh thyme
2 cups chicken stock
1 Serrano chili, finely diced
¼ cup packed dark brown sugar
¼ cup red wine vinegar

Preheat oven to 350.
Heat oil in large Dutch oven and season shanks on both sides with the salt and pepper. When oil is almost smoking, sear lamb on all sides for about 10 minutes till nicely browned. Remove from pan and add onion, carrot, celery and season with salt and pepper and cook about five minutes. Add wine and cook till reduced by half, three minutes. Add several sprigs of fresh thyme, stock and bring to boil. Cover it up, stick in oven and let cook till meat is very tender 2-2.5 hours.
Remove shanks and tent to keep warm with foil. Strain sauce into medium saucepan and put on high heat. Add Serrano chili and sugar and cook till reduced to sauce consistency (coats spoon) takes about 20 minutes. Add vinegar and cook one minute and season.

Sweet Potato Risotto with Roasted Chanterelles
1 large sweet potato, scrubbed
8 ounces chanterelle mushrooms (I couldn’t find fresh this weekend and substituted dried, reconstituted in hot water for 30 minutes)
Olive oil
Coarse salt and freshly ground black pepper
The other half of the red onion you used in the lamb, coarsely chopped
1.5 cups Arborio rice
1 cup dry white wine
½ cup grated parmesan cheese
A couple of tablespoons pine nuts, lightly toasted.

Preheat oven 425. Roast sweet potato till soft about 45 minutes.
When cool enough to handle peel it and smash it up.
While sweet potato is roasting, toss mushrooms small baking dish with olive oil and season with salt and pepper . Roast till golden brown, about 15 minutes.
Bring six cups water to boil heat remaining olive oil and 2 tbs butter in medium pot over medium high heat. Add onion and season with salt and pepper and cook till soft. About four minutes. Add rice and toss to coat in the mixture and cook for two minutes. Add wine and boil until completely reduced, takes about three minutes. Add two cups of the boiling water and cook, stirring until its’ absorbed. Keep adding one cup of water at a time and cook, stirring until nearly all of the liquid is absorbed. Rice should be al dente in about 30 minutes. Stir in sweet potato puree and add 2 tablespoons butter and parmesan and season to taste with salt and pepper and fold in the pine nuts and the roasted chanterelles..plenty of leftovers if you do this recipe and serve 2.
Thanks, Bobby! You Rock!!!



cook eat FRET said...

lamb is my #1 favorite meat. hands down. i LOVE it. again - this version of shanks sounds heavenly. next time you make it could you just make 1 more???

Mary Coleman said...

Claudia..I'll let you know in advance when it's shank time in Forest Hills. It's our all time favorite meat as well.