Friday, March 6, 2009


It feels like spring now...I know, we haven't had high school basketball tournaments yet, so there's sure to be at least one more snowstorm...but it won't last long and soon the little bulbs will be poking up and the blossoms on the trees. For me, March is all about lamb. St. Paddy's day lamb and Guinness stew for sure, and that always gets me rolling on other lamb recipes. So this month I'll share some of them as I come across them in my search for the perfect lamb dish. Last week I made lamb shanks in the slow about easy and absolutely delicious and tender. I was always afraid of shanks...didn't really know what to do with them and apparently the same is true of some restaurant chefs because I've tried them in cities around the world and always been disappointed, but recently I saw an episode on Food TV while riding my stationary bicycle and decided to give them a try (food tv keeps me from the boredom of the stationary). We purchased a whole lamb from Jordandal Farms and it's been great fun making dishes we normally make with other meats using the lamb instead. If you've never had local lamb, you really ought to try the lamb at Jordandal if you get the chance. They are grass fed, tender, lean and downright delicious. Last spring I went out to the farm and took photos of the sheep in the pasture--they were quite camera shy, but I found that if I sat down in the field they would come a little closer to me. Anyway, back to lamb's my recipe:
2 lamb shanks
olive oil
coarse sea salt
coarsely ground black pepper
2-3 carrots, diced
2 stalks celery, diced
2-3 medium onions, diced
3-4 cloves garlic, sliced
3 tbsp herbs de provence
1 bay leaf
1/2 cup red wine
water or broth to cover
Take the lamb shanks by the bone end and using a knife, scrape the meat down from the end of the bone, just a bit--about 1-2 inches. This helps them stay moist and tender as they shrink up
during cooking. Pat the shanks dry and then generously coat with the coarse sea salt and coarsely ground pepper. Heat 2 tbsp olive oil in a dutch oven or saute pan and then sear the shanks about 3-5 minutes on all sides. Transfer shanks to slow cooker. Add another 2 tbsp to pan and saute carrots, celery and onions until just transluscent. Add wine to pan and deglaze. Pour this mixture in the slow cooker with the shanks, add the garlic and herbs de provence and bay leaf, then cover with water or broth. (TIP: I save the water from when I skin my frozen tomatoes and use that for my water or broth in many recipes. It has some of the nutrients and bits from the tomato also. If you have no clue what I'm talking about...I freeze tomatoes during the peak season so that I have tomatoes on hand all winter to use for sauces, soups, stews etc. It's super easy...just wash, dry, and freeze on a sheet pan until hard, then place in a freezer bag and viola...frozen tomatoes. When you're ready to use them, place them in a bowl and cover with boiling water. The skins slip right off and you can use them in your recipes.)
Cook the shanks on medium-low heat for 6-8 hours. Before serving, remove shanks and thicken up the sauce to use as a gravy by adding some roux or cornstarch to the sauce. These were so incredibly tender and flavorful, I was in heaven...practically drank the sauce! And bonus--there was enough sauce left over to make lamb meatballs using the sauce--two delicious meals! Enjoy!

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