Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Lamb Shank Soup with Tomatoes and Shell Beans





I own a lot of excellent cookbooks. I try to cook out of all of them, but it’s an impossible task. This year I made one resolution. I would pick a cookbook I‘d never used and, well, use it. The first cookbook to benefit from my resolution was Chez Panisse Cooking , a beautiful book written by Paul Bertolli with Alice Waters.

I closed my eyes and opened the book and then looked. It was meant to happen. A lamb shank recipe. Imagine that. But such a different take on the lamb shank. A soup. A wonderful tomatoey, garlicky soup base with blackeyed peas (I happened to have them on hand) and topped with a gremolata that brings thoughts of summer to mind. Maybe resolutions aren’t so hard to keep after all.

Lamb Shank Soup with Tomatoes and Shell Beans
adapted from
Chez Panisse Cooking by Paul Bertolli with Alice Waters


A couple of good swirls extra virgin olive oil
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 lamb shanks, trimmed of all fat
2 carrots, diced
1-½ red onion, diced
3 stalks celery, diced
15 cloves garlic, peeled
4 Turkish bay leaves
4-5 springs Italian parsley
3 sprigs fresh thyme
2 14 ounce cans San Marzano plum tomatoes, save the juice, dice the tomatoes
1 tbsp balsamic vinegar
9 cups water
1 cup fresh black eyed peas, speckled butter beans or flageolets

For the gremolata
Small handful Italian parsley
2 cloves garlic, minced
Grate the zest of 1 lemon

Heat olive oil in Dutch oven. Season the shanks with salt and coarsely ground black pepper and add to pot and cook over low heat for 30 minutes, turn to brown the sides. Remove from pot. Throw out any fat and add the carrots, onions and celery. If you need to add a bit more olive oil, go for it.


Raise the heat and brown for 15 minutes, stir to keep from burning.

Take a piece of cheesecloth and wrap the whole garlic cloves, bay leaves, parsley and thyme and add to the pot. Stir in the tomatoes, tomato juice and balsamic vinegar. Put the lamb shanks on top and cover with the water. Bring to gentle boil, reduce the heat to a bare simmer. Cook for two hours uncovered.


Remove from pot when done and transfer lamb to plate to cool. Remove the cheesecloth And discard.

While the shanks cook, simmer black eyed peas in 1 quart water with a bit of salt. When tender remove from heat and set aside.

Bring the heat back up and let pot simmer for 15 minutes. There will be some lovely orangey gray fat and foam that will rise to surface. Be sure to skim all of that off. Be diligent.

When shanks are cool enough to handle, remove the meat from the bones, pull apart and put back in the pot. Drain black eyed peas and add to pot.
Bring back to simmer and taste to season.

Mix the gremolata ingredients together.
Serve the soup and sprinkle the gremolata on top. Or you can do like me and fling the gremolata all over everything for the thrill of it!
Serves 6

Share/Save/Bookmark

8 comments:

Anonymous said...

Mary:

That looks tres yummy. I've never done lamb shanks, I'll have to put them on the list.

In the book, "What Einstein Told His Cook 2" (Robert L. Wolke--with recipes by Marlene Parrish), the author a food scientist explains why one should use a skimmer, instead of a spoon to remove the scum that forms on the surface of the soup. I picked my copy up at the Yale Bookstore (B&N) for $6.00 or so.

When it comes to technique, I love to know the why. When it comes to flavor I almost always follow my nose and the advice of people who love food.

democommie

Mary Coleman said...

democommie,
i would love to know the why! Now, you have to try lamb shanks. It's what we call "cheap but effective!"
Thanks for the book info. Keep it up!
By the way, I've looked everywhere for my copy of Madeleine Kamman's When French Women Cook and I can't find it. She's on my wish list now. Thanks for reminding me of her yesterday!
Mary

fluffernutter said...

But where did you get lamb shanks? I saw them at our fave German store in Florida and nearly bought them to stash on ice for the trip home -- that's how hard it is for me to locate them here.

fluffernutter said...

Oh, and I have a copy of When French Women Cook. It is really good. Talk about serious French home cooking. My fave recipe from it is mackerel in Fennel and Onion Sauce. Three saucepans, a roaster. But there's never a molecule left after I make it. Let's go to lunch and you can peruse/photocopy my copy.

Mary Coleman said...

Fluff honey,
Go to Whole Foods. They have the lamb shanks to end all lamb shanks. Not expensive at all. You can also order them from Plumgood.
Lunch sounds divine. I'll email you!!!
Mary

Anonymous said...

Mary:

I was looking at your piccata recipe and it reminded me of the one that the chef in restaurant where I did some pearldiving, and later, bartending used to do.

He used Provimi veal, dredged in flour, dipped in egg and then rolled in peccorino or parmigiana (or a combination--it's been 25 years). Then he sauteed it in clarified butter and served it with new potatoes and some veg or other. It was tricky, too much or too little heat and it was either burned cheese or greasy. He was good at it. Chicken works just as well as beal (so would pork). But, the one you did, using one of my major food groups, oil cured olives, looks even better.

democommie

Mary Coleman said...

You know, democommie, I used to eat veal. Then my neighbors started raising cows. I watch those babies grow up and move on. I can eat a steak with the best of them, but the veal...I can't do. It's weird but true. That piccata recipe is FINE FINE especially with a chicken thighs and those olives!!!!

Anonymous said...

Mary:

I don't remember the last time I ate veal.