Thawing Lamb Shanks / Cooking from Frozen
I bought a couple of lamb shanks from the butcher today and they look great but they were frozen - the butcher said you can cook them from frozen but now I'm not so sure.
I was planning on cooking them in the oven on a low temp for about an hour and a half - just in some stock, wine and herbs. Would you add a bit of extra time on? Do you think they will turn out OK?
Also, how long would people think they would take to defrost? They weigh about a pound each.
Thanks in advance.
You are going to need more time than 1.5 hours. Even defrosted I usually plan on about 3 hours. I brown them first and then add stock, wine etc and braise in a low oven.
You can thaw them under cold running water in the sink instead of in the fridge - I would expect them to take at least 24 to 48 hours to thaw in the fridge (at least in my fridge!). Cold running water will thaw them much faster and is still a safe method. Probably give them half an hour to thaw out with this method.
Sorry I can't help with the cooking time - I am not a great braiser and my husband won't eat lamb so my experience is of no help with this situation!
Technically, you can braise them from frozen. But, your braised meats will taste a lot better if you brown them first. If I spent good money on lamb shanks, I'd definitely do that.
I've taken the wrapped package of meat, put it into a large ziplock bag, then in a pyrex dish or large enough bowl, flipping it around in the cold water and place the bowl in a sunny space or by the fireplace (if you have one). I'm thinking these are the cut shanks like osso bucco?
If the shanks are about 2 to 3 inches thick, it will take about 1.5 hours. If they are not laying flat, but they have been piled on each other, pry them apart without damaging the meat, then lay them flat re-wrap, and put it back into the plastic bag and into the cold water. Move them around every so often. After they've thawed, make sure to blot them dry, then proceed with your recipe, since shanks can be tough, you really should follow the cooking time for braising.
But cooking them frozen, you are not going to be able to get any seasoning, flavorings in them, let alone to brown them first...
I'll be the dissenter, and say that you can cook them from frozen, allowing, of course, extra time. You won't get the flavor components that come from first browning the meat, but you can compensate. For example well caramelized onions will add flavor and color. Also, the part of the meat that isn't immersed develops color, and presumably flavor. And juices the collect on the sides of the pan also brown, and can be scraped back in.
I also question whether, given the usual shape of lamb shanks, whether you can sear much more than a few spots around the thickest part. I'll admit that I haven't worked with lamb shanks in some time, but my guess is that in the usual preparation, the proportion of flavor that comes from the initial browning is relatively small.
What am I thinking of? I think lamb shanks are round with the bone in the center, and about 2-3 inches thick..? must be the big piece where the bone extrudes? Yes but hard to cook frozen with so many different thicknesses. I gotta say that there is whole lot of flavor from the browning and the sugars that carmelize, along with the aromatics.