|Braised Lamb Shanks|
Last week on a supermarket trip, I picked up some lamb shanks because they were on sale not really considering the weather later in the week. Fast forward to Thursday evening when I remove said shanks from the freezer to defrost overnight in the refrigerator, again not really thinking about the weather. On Friday, the official high here in my city was 88° Fahrenheit but it felt like 100°. Did I really want to heat up my kitchen?
I miss my grill.
I actually prepared this dish for my last website almost two years ago but was disappointed with the picture I published so I wanted to reshoot. It's actually a straight-forward braise: sear the protein, brown the mirepoix, add in your braising fluid and simmer, but heating my oven to 400° for three hours in hot weather is not my idea of fun.
Improve my photography and presentation skills.
Taken from page 174 to 176 of Cook Like A Rock Star by Anne Burrell with Suzanne Lenzer.
4 lamb shanks
Freshly ground black pepper
1 medium onion, chopped coarsely
1 carrot, chopped coarsely
1 rib celery, chopped coarsely
1 cup tomato paste
2 cups red wine
2 rosemary sprigs
1 handful thyme sprigs
2 bay leaves
2 teaspoons fresh mint or flat leaf parsley, chopped (for garnish)
1. Finish your mise en place: Preheat the oven to 400° Fahrenheit. Combine the carrot, onion and celery in a food processor and pulse until it pureéd. Tie the rosemary and thyme together with some kitchen twine to form a herb bundle, then season the lamb shanks with salt and pepper.
2. Sear the lamb: Coat the bottom of a large Dutch oven with olive oil (approximately 1 tablespoon) and place over medium-high heat. Once the oil starts to smoke, add the lamb shanks and brown well on all sides, in batches if necessary. Once browned, remove from the Dutch oven and set aside.
3. Brown the mirepoix: If the Dutch oven is dry, add additional oil. Once hot, place the onion-celery-carrot paste into the Dutch oven and season with salt and pepper. Cook, stirring frequently until brown, approximately 8 to 10 minutes, scraping any fond from the bottom of the oven along the way. Stir in the tomato paste, stirring continually until it starts to brown, about a minute or two.
4. Deglaze and add braising fluids: Add the wine to the Dutch oven, and bring to a boil, reducing by half and scraping any remaining fond, approximately 3 to 4 minutes. Return the lamb shanks to the Dutch oven and add enough water so that three quarters of the shanks are submerged in braising fluid. Taste the fluid and season, if necessary. (Conversely, if all the lamb shanks don't fit evenly in the Dutch oven, put them in a roasting pan, pour the deglazed mirepoix over the shanks, then add additional water.) Toss in the herb bundle and bay leaves, cover (with aluminum foil if using a roasting pan) and place in the oven for two-and-a-half to three hours. Turn the shanks every hour, and if the braising fluid has reduced significantly, add more water.
5. Finish the dish: Uncover during the last 30 minutes so the shanks can brown and the braising fluid can reduce and thicken. Serve over mashed potatoes or polenta and garnish with mint or parsley.
Doesn't the lamb shank look like something Fred Flinstone would eat? After looking at some other presentations, I decided not to plate the sauce like I had the last time. (See below.) Mrs. Stuntman devoured her dinner; my 5-year-old daughter surprised me by declaring her meat Yummy! and even Mrs. Stuntman's colleagues thought the dish was prepared well as leftovers the next day.
So here we are at episode 5 of Next Food Network Star. My three groups remain largely unchanged with Nikki, Chad and Stacey in the lead; Chris and Damaris in the middle plus Rodney and Russell being my prediction for the next two to leave the competition. In the Star Salvation contest, I'm not surprised that Lovely has impressed (She did train under Gordon Ramsay, after all), but what's missing from this segment are challenges focusing on camera presence. Chefs that can execute a great dish are a dime a dozen, but not all of them have the communication skills and the charisma to be a public figure.
Lastly, I wanted to give you a hint regarding an upcoming project. You might see a familiar face if you sign up to receive Chef Fabio Viviani's newsletter.