BRAISED LAMB SHANKS, BARTOLINI STYLE

Italy is a country we always associate with wonderful home cooking and fun times: comfort dishes, pasta made from scratch, long simmered sauces, loving Grandmas, loud conversations (also the case back in Brazil, by the way) and happy glasses of wine.  If you are fond of authentic Italian food, “From the Bartolini Kitchens” is a spot you must incorporate into your virtual world. I first got to John’s site indirectly, by reading his comments on blogs we both visited. Each and every comment he wrote made me think “this ChicagoJohn is such a nice guy!”  From comments I jumped to his blog, and became an instant subscriber and avid reader. So, if his site is new to you, stop by and while you are having fun there, make sure to check the story of his family, that could very well be made into a movie. Fascinating to read, just as his recipes and recollections of his cooking with “Zia”.

I have quite a few of his recipes on my list to try, but this one made the jump from “to try soon” to “tried and true” in a couple of weeks. Record time, considering that Sally usually performs her culinary magic in anti-warp speed.  😉

LambShanks1

BRAISED LAMB SHANKS
(slightly adapted from this Bartolini family recipe)

3 lamb shanks
2 tbsp olive oil
4 medium carrots, roughly chopped
leaves and stalks from the top of a celery heart, about 1 cup
1 shallot, sliced
2 cloves of garlic, smashed
4 sprigs of rosemary
1 bay leaf
1 cup red wine
2 tbsp tomato paste
1/2 cup sherry vinegar
veal stock (or chicken stock, or water)
salt & pepper to taste
lemon zest for garnish, optional

Heat oven to 250 F.

In a large fry pan, heat the olive oil over med-high heat. Add 2 smashed garlic cloves and sauté until golden. Remove the garlic and discard.

Season the lamb shanks with salt and pepper and place them into the pan, browning them on all sides. This could take anywhere from 10 to 15 minutes. Remove and reserve the lamb shanks.

Place all the vegetables into the pan, season with salt and pepper, and sauté until some color is achieved. Add the tomato paste and cook until fragrant and its color deepens, 2 to 3 minutes. Add the red wine, deglaze the pan well, then add lamb shanks back to the pan.  Pour veal stock so that the level of the liquid comes two-thirds up the meat.  Add the rosemary and bay leaf, season the liquid with more salt and pepper.

Cover the pan and place in the oven for 3 hours or more, moving the pieces around every 45 minutes or so. If the liquid dries too much, add water or stock. When the meat is super tender, remove it and reduce the sauce if necessary by boiling it down on top of the stove.

Serve, garnished with lemon zest and sauce on the side.

ENJOY!

 to print the recipe, click here

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Comments:  This braise is one of those perfect recipes to cook when you will be spending a nice Sunday at home, no social obligations, just playing it all by ear. I actually made it on Easter Sunday, but we enjoyed it next day. Hard to beat a meal like this after work on a Monday.  It made me wonder why I don’t do this type of elaborate advanced cooking more often, like every weekend. Yeah, right. I am such a jokester!  😉

I love to keep this type of braise in the fridge overnight because not only the flavors intensify, but it makes it easy to remove the congealed fat on top.  Interestingly, when I tried a bit of the sauce at the end of braising, I thought that the flavor of the vinegar was a tad too strong.  Somehow it was perfectly balanced next day. The magic of Bartolini Kitchens, working at full power!

We enjoyed this delicious lamb with a smooth cauliflower puree, if you want the recipe, here is a flash back from the Bewitching Kitchen’s past. Three lamb shanks were too much for the two of us, of course. But I have big plans for the leftover meat: a lamb ragú to be served over pappardelle.  That shall happen soon, the meat is waiting in the freezer. Well labeled. Obviously.  😉

Plated

 The smell of this dish while braising is intoxicating. In the best possible way….
No individual was immune to it in our home.

Osky

 

John, thanks for a great recipe, I still want to make your Sauce in the style of Bologna which has been calling my name for a long time!  

 

ONE YEAR AGO: Ridiculously Good Coconut Brigadeiros

TWO YEARS AGO:  A bewitching move ahead… (from OK to KS!)

THREE YEARS AGO: Double-hydration focaccia

FOUR YEARS AGO: Pierre Nury’s Rustic Light Rye: Bougnat

MAGICAL LAMB STEW with PARSNIPS, PRUNES, and CHICKPEAS

This recipe goes into the category of  “Perfect Saturday Night Dinner.”  From the recent issue of Fine Cooking magazine (number 102), contributed by David Tanis,  it has a  sexy flavor with a North African flair. The many tastes in this meal reminded me of the exotic couscous we used to savor on cold Parisian evenings by the Seine.
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LAMB STEW WITH PARSNIPS, PRUNES, AND CHICKPEAS
(adapted from Fine Cooking magazine # 102)

For the Lamb
3 lb. boneless leg of lamb, cut into 1-inch cubes
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 medium carrots, cut into 3-inch pieces
1 medium yellow onion, peeled and stuck with 1 whole clove
1 three-inch cinnamon stick
1 bay leaf

For the stew
2 Tbs. olive oil
1 large yellow onion, cut into small dice
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 medium clove garlic, roughly chopped
1 Tbs. paprika
2 tsp. cumin seed, toasted and ground
2 tsp. coriander seed, toasted and ground
1/2 tsp. cayenne pepper
2 cups canned chickpeas, rinsed
12 pitted prunes, halved
1/2 cup tomato purée
1 lb. medium parsnips, peeled, cut into 2-inch pieces
1 Tbs. chopped fresh cilantro

Heat the oven to 350°F.

Season the lamb with 2 tsp. salt and 1/2 tsp. pepper. In a large Dutch oven combine the lamb, carrots, onion, cinnamon, bay leaf, and add water to cover. Bring to a gentle boil, cover and cook in the oven until the meat is very tender, about 2-1/2 hours. Strain the mixture through a fine sieve over a large bowl. Discard the vegetables and spices. Cool the lamb and broth, and refrigerate separately. Skim the fat from the broth before continuing.

Heat the olive oil over medium-high heat in a large pan. Add the diced onion, a pinch of salt, and a few grinds of black pepper and cook, stirring occasionally, until softened and lightly browned. Add the garlic, paprika, cumin, coriander, and cayenne and cook, stirring for a couple of minutes.

Stir in the chickpeas, prunes, tomato purée, and a pinch of salt. Add the reserved lamb and 4 cups of the broth and bring to a boil. Boil for 5 minutes and then turn the heat to low. Cover and simmer for 10 minutes. Add the parsnips and cook until tender, about 10 minutes. Season to taste with salt and pepper, and serve sprinkled with cilantro.

to print the recipe, click here

Comments – this is an unusual stew in the sense that the meat wasn’t browned before braising.    If David Tanis wasn’t the man responsible for the recipe, I’d have had second thoughts about trying it, but he is one of the chefs devising the dishes at Chez Panisse,  the famous Berkeley restaurant.   If he skips the browning, I’ll skip it too. 😉   But, after the 2.5 hours of  braising in the oven, I wasn’t too optimistic.  The meat looked pale and bland, like hospital food.  Without much choice (apart from dialing for pizza),  I finished the stew, and it was like a Phoenix born from the ashes…. the dish beautifully came together!   The lamb was super tender, and the spices permeated the meat, perhaps better than when it’s browned in advance.

We enjoyed it with couscous and a little naan bread.

I had visions of a magic carpet ride!  Maybe it will happen to you too…  😉

para receita em portugues, siga ate’ a proxima pagina

A SPECIAL DINNER FOR TWO…

Sometimes (more often than I care to admit…)  I buy things on impulse, without knowing exactly what to do with them. Last week I saw a New Zealand rack of lamb, and couldn’t resist it. I hid the package in the fridge, hoping to surprise my beloved with a special meal. I think his top three favorite dishes are Beef Wellington, rack of lamb, and grilled salmon….sushi and oysters on the halfshell are also strong contenders…  At any rate, I knew the lamb would be well received!

Normally I’d simplify the preparation of a rack of lamb: salt and pepper, and nothing else. The meat is so flavorful, it shines on its own.   However, a recipe in Ming Tsai’s book (Ming’s Master Recipes) changed my mind, as it had “Autumn” and “Romance” written all over it… 😉

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CRANBERRY-TERIYAKI LAMB RACK  with COUSCOUS SALAD
(adapted from Ming Tsai’s Master Recipes)

2 lamb racks
1 cup cranberry-teriyaki glaze (recipe below)
1 cup couscous, cooked
juice and zest of 1 lemon
1 T Dijon mustard
1/4 cup olive oil
3 scallions stalks, sliced (reserve green part for garnishing)
1/4 cup dried cranberries, coarsely chopped
salt and pepper to taste

Marinate the racks of lamb in the glaze for a couple of hours or overnight.   Prepare a hot grill, remove lamb from the marinade and grill it to medium-rare.  For our small racks of lamb, I grilled for 12 minutes, turning them halfway through.  Allow the meat to rest for 5  minutes before slicing it between the bones.

Prepare the couscous salad…
Cook the couscous as instructed in the package, and reserve.  In a large bowl, whisk together lemon juice, zest, and mustard. Slowly add the oil, still whisking, to form an emulsion, and season it with salt and pepper. Add the white part of the scallions, the cranberries and the cooked couscous, tossing well to combine.

To serve, place the couscous on a plate, top it with the lamb chops, garnish with scallion greens, and spoon some extra cranberry glaze on top of the lamb.


CRANBERRY-TERIYAKI GLAZE
1/8 cup plus 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
1/2 cup dried cranberries
1 shallot, sliced thin
1 tablespoon minced fresh ginger
1 cup cranberry juice
1/2 cup soy sauce
1/4  cup sugar
zest and juice of 1 orange
salt to taste

In a large saucepan, heat 1 tablespoon of the oil, add the dried cranberries, shallot slices and ginger and cook over high heat, stirring, until softened, about 5 minutes. Add the cranberry juice, soy sauce, sugar, orange zest and juice and simmer over low heat until reduced by half, about 15 minutes. Let it cool slightly and then transfer it to a blender.

Blend the sauce, adding the remaining olive oil with the machine running.  Do not blend it until it is completely smooth, the sauce is supposed to contain little bits of cranberries.  Taste and adjust seasoning; it keeps for 1 week refrigerated.

couscoussalad2Couscous salad, a perfect match for the lamb…

ENJOY!

to print the recipe, click here.

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