What to do with lamb shanks?
- LaureltQ Jan 2, 2011 10:34 AM
My local grocery store has lamb shanks on sale this week. I love lamb, but I don't regularly cook it, and I've never made or eaten lamb shanks before. I also have a big jar of preserved lemons that I'd like to make a dent in, and some olives hanging out in the fridge. I was thinking some kind of Moroccan preparation. Ideally, I could pop these in my slow cooker before heading to work in the morning and come home to an amazing meal that I could serve over couscous or something.
Do you have any better suggestions? Do you have a tried and true method of cooking these that I should know about?
Lamb shanks are wonderful. I make them with white beans. Though I don;s use a slow cooker, they are a perfect candidate, just make sure to brown them first. Moroccan flavors are a natural for them.
I agree with Moroccan tagine. How about an osso bucco? They are also lovely braised with red wine, a touch of red wine vinegar (or other vinegars) and fresh herbs served over polenta, white beans (as already suggested) or lentils.
I make a lamb shanks dish that always is a big hit. The trick is to first brown the lamb shanks and then take them out of the pan... saute onions and add some rosemary and white wine. After the lamb shanks are put back in (a use a large Le Creuset casserole pot), it goes in the oven at a low temperature (about 160) for about two hours or more. Last step is to take out the lamb shanks, reduce the liquid gravy and then add balsamic vinegar to it to pour over the lamb.
I braise my lamb shanks in a 300-degree oven for about 3 hours. For a dinner during the week, I just brown the shanks, add a cup of red wine and a cup of diced tomatoes, bring to a boil, cover with parchment paper and a lid and braise in the oven. The lamb is falling off the bone and the sauce is thick and rich. The sky is the limit for what herbs or vinegars etc..you can use.
I got some cooking cards when we had a holiday in Tunisia
use their lamb shanks with cous cous, fennel and pumpkin.
The lamb shanks are braised and juices all added to the mix.
I've not done it in years and thanks for reminding me. It will go
on my to do list.
Slow cooker all day (on Low, if it's a 2-speed) is about right - the meat etcetera will be falling off the bone. You will want to pick the meat and tendons apart, I'm sure. I have made a quick fake cassoulet with the meat, the broth and drained canned canellini beans, accenting the flavors with rosemary or herbes de Provence. But your Moroccan idea looks great, and with the meat and broth you're almost there. Preserved lemon and olives sound like a good way to cut through the richness.
These are my man's directions:
ALL TOLD, COOKING TAKES ABOUT 5 HOURS FROM TIME FIRST PUT IN OVEN TILL BEING SERVED.
KEY INGREDIENTS =
4 OR 5 LAMB SHANKS
ONE CUP OF CHICKEN BROTH
ONE LARGE TIN OF WHOLE, PEELED TOMATOES
TWO SMALL (14oz) TINS OF DICED TOMATOES
SOME OLIVE OIL
1 16oz BOX OF ORZO = 10 CUPS OF LIQUID (LIQUID:ORZO = 4:1)
OREGANO, THYME, ROSEMARY
• BROWN SALTED AND SEASONED (OREGANO, BASIL, THYME) LAMB SHANKS IN DUTCH OVEN ON STOVE TOP
• ONCE BROWNED, TAKE OUT SHANKS AND PUT THEM TO THE SIDE. PLACE ONIONS AND GARLINC IN DUTCH OVEN ON STOVE TOP. DON’T LET THEM BROWN, BUT COOK LONG ENOUGH TO MAKE ONIONS TRANSLUSCENT. FEEL FREE TO PLACE LAMB SHANKS BACK IN FOR AWHILE ALONG WITH THE ONIONS AND GARLINC
• PLACE BROTH, OLIVE OIL, TOMATOES AND HERBS IN WITH SHANKS, ONIONS, AND GARLIC.
• COVER AND PLACE THE DUTCH OVEN IN PRE-HEATED OVEN
• COOK AT 375.
• AFTER 3-4 HOURS, THE LAMB SHANKS WILL BE DONE (MEAT WILL LITERALLY FALL OFF THE BONE TO THE TOUCH). AT THIS STAGE, TAKE THE BONES OUT, REMOVE ANY REMAINING MEAT AND PLACE IT BACK IN THE DUTCH OVEN. THE BONES CAN BE DISCARDED.
• WHEN YOU ARE READY TO COOK THE ORZO, REMOVE THE DUTCH OVEN. WITH A LADEL OR MEASURING CUP, REMOVE AS MANY CUPS OF LIQUID AS YOU CAN FROM THE DUTCH OVEN AND PLACE IN A BOWL (IF THERE ARE CHUNKS OF TOMATO IN THERE, DON’T WORRY. COUNT THEM AS LIQUID AS WELL). ALL TOLD YOU WILL WANT A 4:1 LIQUID:ORZO RATIO. SO, GENERALLY, YOU WILL WANT TO COOK AN ENTIRE BOX (16 OZ0 OF ORZO), MEANING YOU WANT ABOUT 10 CUPS OF LIQUID. IF YOU COME UP SHORT (AND THAT DOES HAPPEN), THEN SIMPLY MAKE UP THE REST BY ADDING CHICKEN BROTH OR WATER. THEN, PLACE ALL THE LIQUID BACK IN THE DUTCH OVEN, ALONG WITH YOUR ORZO. COVER AND PLACE THE DUTCH OVEN BACK IN THE OVEN UNTIL DONE, I.E. WHEN THE LIQUID IS GONE.
NOTE: ONCE PUTTING THE ORZO IN, YOU SHOULD PLAN ON IT TAKING CA. 1 HOUR
• ABOUT 15 MINUTES BEFORE REMOVING FROM THE OVEN, PUT SOME GRATED GREEK CHEESE ON TOP.
• REMOVE, LET SIT FOR ABOUT 15 MINUTES, THEN SERVE.
LaureItQ, I recently made lamb shanks for a dinner party. I wanted to braise them in the oven and I also had a jar of preserved lemons that I wanted to use.
I first did a standard browning prior to braising. After the meat was browned I added onions, carrots and celery and deglazed with red wine and stock. I added other aromatic ingredients like the preserved lemons which were cut up and a variety of olives as well as rosemary and thyme. I also added a bag of frozen fava beans. All this went into a roaster and the shanks were added. Liquid came up to approximately half way. It was popped into a waiting oven which I think was maybe 325*. 2 1/2 hours later they were quite done. Since I didn't have the luxury of cooking the day ahead and defatting, I strained off the liquid and used a fat separator to remove the vast majority of fat. The liquid was further reduced and a veal demi glaze was added which thickened it nicely.
I served the shanks with combination of a braised lentil dish and mashed potatoes. Roasted vegetables would also be a good side.
What you are suggesting is perfect. The most important thing is long and slow, the ingredients in all the above would be fine, but the cooking method is most important. Brown them first to a nice caramel sheen in olive oil, then cook any onions or hard vegetables for a few minutes. Deglaze, toss everything else in, toss in the shanks, and wait, whether oven or slow cooker.
My usual method is to braise browned shanks with crushed tomatoes, onions, garlic bay leaf, cinnamon, allspice, a little thyme and a grating of lemon zest. Just before it's done, I add celery, carrots, lima beans and sliced eggplant. You can also cook the eggplant early so that it disintegrates into a very thick sauce. Lamb and eggplant are a marriage made in heaven.
My mother's lima bean soup, which she reconstructed after a customer gave some to her. Original recipe and ethnicity unknown..... brown a large lamb shank (comparable to a man's fist) in a large, heavy pot in a little oil. Add 2c chopped onion, a cup of diced celery, garlic to taste, a pound of large dry lima beans (unsoaked), a large bay leaf, and 2.5-3 qts water. Bring to a simmer and cook until the meat is falling off the bone and some of the beans have split open. Fish out the meat and bone, add a cup of carrot coins, and continue to simmer until carrots and beans are tender. I add a tsp of Kitchen bouquet or Gravy Master to deepen the color. Meanwhile, shred the meat and return to the pot. Salt, pepper to taste. Soup will thicken some as it cools so you may need to dilute a little on reheating. Note that this type of lima bean turns out, when cooked, like what's sold in cans as butter beans. They are milder in flavor and differ in size and color from green lima beans.
Mom was from Germany, and first had this soup in the 1940's, in America - neither she nor the era were comfortable with the large variety of seasonings we use today. If I were creating a soup from lamb and beans I would use garam masala but for me, this soup is childhood comfort food, and "German masala" - onions, and more onions - is not to be messed with! ;-) It's a real rib-sticker though for all I know, may differ a lot from the original soup that inspired my mother's version. I have often tried to find its origins, to no avail.