|Lamb Shanks Roasted “a la Matignon”|
Before I proceed, I must first apologize for my extended absence last month. It wasn't planned but I found myself too busy to prepare a presentation-worthy dish. One issue I have been wrestling with over the course of the last few months is one of evolution. I'm still inspired by unusual cooking techniques, but I'm becoming confident in my execution. I've also discovered in this past year that pairing food and achieving balance of flavors has inspired me which takes time to plan my dishes.
I learned of this dish back in September when Chef Thomas Keller prepared it for Williams Sonoma during a live Google+ event. I was fascinated by it because I have never roasted lamb shanks and wanted to see for myself if the meat will break down enough to become tender. Also, the sauce intrigued me because I imagined it was extremely flavorful given the size of the mirepoix.
Successfully execute a cooking method I had never attempted.
The recipe for this dish can be found on the Williams-Sonoma website.
4 lamb shanks, approximately 1 1/4 - 1 1/2 pounds
1/2 cup plus 1 tablespoon canola oil
1/2 cup chicken stock
3 large yellow onions, diced
4 large carrots, diced
2 large leeks, cleaned well and diced
4 large garlic cloves, peeled and lightly crushed
6 thyme sprigs, 6 parsley stems and 2 bay leaves tied together to form a bouquet garni
1 cup red wine
1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
1 teaspoon chives, chopped fine
Cooked polenta for serving
1. Finish the mise en place: Preheat the oven to 275° Fahrenheit. Rinse the lamb shanks with cold water, then pat them dry and let them come up to room temperature, approximately 30 minutes.
2. Brown the shanks: Season the shanks with kosher salt. In a large sauté pan, heat 1/2 cup oil over high heat and, once hot, sear the shanks, on all sides and in batches of two until brown. Adjust the heat to prevent burning, if necessary. Once browned, remove the shanks and discard the oil.
3. Sweat the mirepoix and roast the shanks: Return the pan to medium-high heat and deglaze it with chicken stock, loosening any fond from the bottom with a wooden spoon. When the stock has almost evaporated, add the onions, carrots, leeks, garlic, bouquet garni and the remaining tablespoon oil, stirring frequently. Season the vegetables with kosher salt. Once the vegetables have softened but before they have browned, add the red wine and bring to a boil. Add the shanks back into the pan and cover it. Once the fluid starts to simmer, transfer the pan to the oven. Roast the shanks until the lamb is tender and the meat is almost falling off the bone, about 3 hours.
4. Finish the dish: Once the lamb has roasted, remove from the oven and let it rest to allow for any carryover cooking, approximately 30 minutes. Turn the temperature down to its lowest temperature and remove the lamb shanks to a serving platter, cover with aluminum foil, then put in the oven to keep warm. Strain the vegetables into a fat separator, and once separated, pour back into the original sauté pan. Add the red wine vinegar, then bring to a boil. Taste the sauce for desired consistency and adjust the seasoning, if necessary. Serve with polenta and garnish with chives.
I shouldn't have been surprised but the sauce yielded incredible depth of flavor and balanced the lamb well. Despite my skepticism, the lamb was very tender and cook all the way through. My only criticism? The portion size is a little too big.