Posts Tagged ‘Lamb’
With as much snow as we have had here in Michigan I felt the need to step up my hearty meal intake. When the temperature take a dive I like to help keep the house pleasant and warm by preparing a lot of stewed or braised foods. One of my favorites is braised lamb shanks. I try to purchase them when they are on sale and save them for the proper occasion.Lamb ( and beef or Pork ) Shanks have a tremendous amount of gelatin. This makes any preparation with them extra special.
Having dug out of the storm earlier this week I was surprised when I came back from the store in clear weather only to find the car covered by 2 inches of snow not 10 minutes later.
After this I came to the conclusion that this would be a perfect day for the lamb shank I had.
Your basic stew relies on the protein and the aromatic vegetables ( Onion,Carrot and Celery). In this version I replace the celery with fennel for a spicy twist. I also add a gremolata towards the end of the cooking process which brings a freshness to the preparation. A gremolata, traditionally, is a combination of fresh herbs, lemon rind,garlic and parley. For this preparation I used the fennel fronds to replace the parsley and orange rind to replace the lemon giving this braise a fresh and exciting taste.
As with all Stew/Braises low an slow is the rule!!
Braised Lamb Shanks in Red Wine with a Fennel and Orange Gremolata
Dredge Lamb Shanks in flour and sear in a hot pan with oil
remove lamb an saute vegetable until translucent
Return lamb to the pan, add red wine, cover and simmer until tender.
2 Lamb Shanks
1 Cup Onion Rough Chopped
1/2 cup Fennel Bulb Chopped
1/2 cup Carrot Chopped
1/2 cup Flour
1 cup red wine
- Zest of one large orange
- 1 lg. or 2 sm. cloves garlic; crushed
- 2 Tbsp. finely chopped fennel fronds
- 1 tsp. olive oil
- 1/2 tsp. salt
- 1/4 tsp. ground black pepper
Stir in Gremolata and return pan to oven. Continue to cook for 30 minutes.
Years ago I worked at a very well known restaurant here in Detroit. As a line Chef it was my responsibility to prepare several of the menu items to order. I remember many of the items I prepared. On the appetizer menu there was a Calamari with a Tomato and Basil Burre Blanc and Oysters Rockefeller. For entrees I remember Sautéed Whitefish, Sweetbreads,Roast Duck with a Rosemary infused Red Wine and Honey reduction and Rack of Lamb. I loved Rack of lamb. One of the reasons was that in a Lamb Rack (double rack) there are 9 bone. Now a portion at the restaurant was 4 bones so I would get 2 orders plus one end piece that couldn’t be served. being and end piece it wasn’t a full chop and only had a small amount of meat. What to do with this chop. Many times it was sacrificed for quality control. You can read into that what you like! Ever since this experience Rack of Lamb has been one of my favorites.
Due to the cost involved I don’t get to have Rack of Lamb often and almost never order it in a restaurant but I went shopping today and what did I find on sale but Rack of Lamb. It was still pricy but I couldn’t pass it up. I immediately took it home and started to marinate it. Since I was planning on cooking it over charcoal I though a Mediterranean approach would be in order. In Italy or Greece this would have meant meant olive oil, garlic,lemon and fresh rosemary but several years ago I discovered a Middle Eastern spice blend called Zatar. Zatar is a spice blend with many uses. It is sprinkled on pita dough before baking. It is also a seasoning for meats. Once I added it to my rack of lamb marinade there was no going back. The rosemary was out and the Zatar was in.
With the weather warming up again it was a pretty good day for grilling. I built the fire so that I could take advantage of indirect heat cooking while being able to move my Lamb onto the fire as I felt necessary. I also soaked a few hickory chips to take advantage of the smoke. This method produces a very nice Rack of Lamb!
Unfortunately I can’t really offer a real recipe for this dish as it’s always been something I have just done as a technique.I’m hoping that I’ve given enough information so that anyone who likes lamb but was intimidated by cooking a rack will it will give it a try. I am always available to answer question about cooking so folks shouldn’t hesitate to ask!
To go along with the Lamb I served a Mushroom Risotto and Sautéed Spinach.
Heat your stock up separately and reserve. Keep warm.
Sauté the onion and mushroom in a little vegetable oil and 1 tablespoon of butter until the onion is soft.
Add the orzo and continue stirring until the rice is coated with the oil.
Add the wine and continue stirring until all the wine is absorbed.
Lower the flame to medium and slowly add the stock a little bit at a time and stir constantly. You don’t have to stir fast but you must continue stirring. Continue adding stock until the orzo swell and your mix gets creamy (20 – 30 minutes). Test the orzo to make sure it is not crunchy if it is add more stock.
When the Orzo is done stir in the remaining Butter and Parmesan cheese and serve immediately)
- Zatar is available in any Middle Eastern grocery and a little goes a long way so it’s worth the investment.
- For presentation sake I like to buy Racks that have been Frenched. What this means is that the fat and connective tissue that exists between each bone has been removed and the bones scraped. This gives your chops that nice “Lollipop” effect If I can’t get it that way I French it myself.
- Remember to let your meat “rest”. This allows the juices to settle and they won’t run out of the meat when you cut into it.
- With lamb I never cook past medium rare. The meat should be pink but not bloody.
- For the Risotto I like to use orzo instead of Arborio Rice. It works just as well and I like the texture of the grain.
- Using a wild mushroom in the Risotto is a great way to go but not absolutely essential.
- Do not walk away from the Risotto it need to be stirred continually.
- If your Risotto seems too thick add a little heavy cream or stock to make it creamy again.