Wednesday, December 2, 2009
Lamb Shanks with Black Cherry Wine Sauce - Outdoor Wednesday
From the kitchen at One Perfect Bite...We had such a lovely meal last evening. The folks at Lava Lake Ranch, artisanal producers of certified grass fed organic lamb, sent us a sampler of their products that included some wonderful lamb shanks. We share with them a belief that what we eat, and how it's prepared, really matters. Their flocks are raised sustainably and humanely. The lambs never see a feed lot and all profits from their sale help fund land and habitat conservation in south-central Idaho. If you have time, and would like to learn more about this operation, I heartily recommend a quick trip to the Picasa Web Lava Lake Photo Album. It's an amazing collection of photographs that document a fascinating operation.
I wanted to do something really special with the lamb shanks. Such gorgeous meat deserved better than drowning in a stew pot. I pulled out a good Shiraz, my best balsamic vinegar and some dried, locally grown, cherries to make an extremely flavorful base for braising the lamb shanks. Mercy, they were good! If ever you've seen cooked lamb shanks, you understand why the French call them "lamb mice" or souris d'agneau. If you can conjure a plump mouse (the meat) with a protruding tail (the shank bone) you'll get the picture. What a lot of people don't realize is how incredibly tender these shanks can be when they're not cooked to death. Caprial Pence was the inspiration for this preparation. She builds layers of flavor into her braises. This one begins with a base of slow-roasted vegetables in which the meat is slowly browned. The pan is then deglazed with a good red wine before the final components of the braising liquid are added. This is some of the best peasant food I've ever had. The only thing I don't like about this preparation is its finished color. The balsamic vinegar makes it almost black. Because I finish most of my sauces with arrowroot or cornstarch, the depth of color is even more pronounced. Perhaps next time, I'll use a sherry wine vinegar and see what happens. Here's the recipe. It comes to you with a very hearty bon appetit.
Lamb Shanks with Black Cherry Wine Sauce...from the kitchen of One Perfect Bite, adapted from Bistro-Style Cooking by Caprial Pence
2 tablespoons olive oil
8 shallots, peeled
6 whole cloves garlic
6 (10-12-ounce) lamb shanks
Freshly ground black pepper
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1 cup red wine
1 (10-oz.) can beef broth, undiluted
1 (10-oz.) can chicken broth, undiluted
3 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
1 cup dried cherries
1 tablespoon chopped fresh thyme
1 tablespoon cornstarch
2 tablespoons water
1) Preheat oven to 300 degrees F.
2) Place olive oil, shallots, and garlic in a large, heavy roasting pan and roast, covered, until shallots and garlic are soft, about 1 hour.
3) Meanwhile, season lamb shanks with salt and pepper and dredge in flour. Set aside.
4) Place roasting pan on a stovetop burner. Add lamb shanks and brown over high heat, about 2 minutes per side. Add wine. Boil over high heat to reduce liquid by half. Add chicken and beef broth, vinegar, cherries and thyme.
5) Return pan to 300 degree F. oven and cook, covered for 1 to 1-1/2 hours or until meat is very tender.
6) Remove pan from oven. Transfer shanks to a large serving platter. Blend cornstarch and water. Bring braising liquid to a boil and add cornstarch mixture, stirring until thickened. Strain sauce if desired. Spoon over lamb shanks. Serve hot with polenta or pilaf. Yield: 6 servings.
This is being linked to:
Outdoor Wednesday - A Southern Daydreamer