Monday, January 24, 2011

Oh, I Could Tell You About Procrastination*

I've been urging myself, all this cold and rainy winter, to finally braise the lamb shank (and there's another one left to cook, in the freezer).
So what do we get but a string of the most lovely, sunny days (thank you, La NiƱa). Oddly, it thawed me out of my torpor, and we got a couple of pots a'simmerin' on the stovetop last week. Beans in one pot, lamb in the other.
I'm kinda sassy about not using a recipe for braised shanks. I know how it goes. But this time I wanted to break with one of the stalwarts of my method. I didn't want to use tomatoes.
It's so sunny out! It's like spring! I wanted springy, lamby flavors, and that meant lemon and herbs. (You can't see a lot of herbs because I put most of them in an infusion ball, in with the lamb liquid.)
Cranky set about mincing the most beautiful mirepoix I have ever seen; Gordon Ramsay would not shove this plate into his chest.
I browned the shank in a little oil. Really good brown, this time, because it's one of my new favorite flavors. Removed it just in time for the onion-carrot-celery pile (Cranky is fast) flavored with a length of minced green garlic. (Spring!) Salt, stir, soften.
Lamb back in the pot, then unceremonious dumpages of beer, about midway up the hunk of meat. Pepper. Lemon rind and juice (the tree is fruitful).
Then, lid on and wait.
At last (after a few hours), we pulled the meat off the bones and fat, and stirred the lamby shreds back in with the juice.
Without the tomatoes, the sauce was a little thin, but we loved how it moistened the tender beans on the plate. And with the lemon, I wouldn't have wanted the sweet flavor of summer's vines anyway.
I call it a dish worthy of a spring Taurus. Except I might be an Aries now. Still... spring.
I know. Winter will be back.

*one of these days


Zoomie said...

I licked my monitor.

Ms Brown Mouse said...

I've got shanks and it's Australia Day tomorrow, guess what I'm cooking?

cookiecrumb said...

Zoomie: This is one of those dishes when you need leftovers. I'll just lick the next serving.

Mouse: Ah! I don't know about Australia Day, but I totally get that lamb must be part of it. What else should I know?

Kate said...

Nice. Last winter I made a tagine to use up the weird cuts from the half lamb that we'd ordered. Shanks and neck cuts with leek, teeny bit of garlic, ginger, homemade lamb stock, carrots, toms, prunes, cinnamon, s&p. Dutch oven, stove top, very low, couple hours. Then near the end one of our hokkaido squash (it's a small squash) and golden raisins (we had no apricots on hand).

Probably not authentic, but yum. Yum yum. Too bad neck cuts are so hard to come by.

cookiecrumb said...

Kate: You had me at "the half lamb." Then you tortured me with "neck cuts" and finished me off with "lamb stock"
Your version sounds great (but yeah, wouldn't apricots be nice?). It has never occurred to me that I could make a tagine in the Dutch oven. I didn't want to buy another specialty dish, so I deprived myself. You are my liberation! I'll follow your "recipe."

Anonymous said...

I also just ordered a half lamb, and made tomatoless shanks the other night. Like yours, but with olives and wine and Moroccan spices. I'm also a Libra now, evidently.

cookiecrumb said...

Peter: (MY Peter? All is forgiven, sob!)
Olives, wine, Moroccan spices with lamb. I'm there.
I wish I had room to store a half lamb, but I have the best local meat growers. I'd probably make a Jeffrey Dahmer mess of a half lamb.

Ms Brown Mouse said...

It's a public holiday - Huzzah. It's become a horrid, flag-waving display of cringe-making nationalism by yobs and halfwits. We have our annual argument about changing the flag. Loads of folk go to the beach, which is crowded, hot madness IMHO. There's fireworks. Some indigenous folk call it "invasion day". It was very, very hot.
That just about covers it :)

cookiecrumb said...

Mouse: Gotcha. Fourth of July.