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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

Ingredients:

2 tablespoons olive oil
8 shallots, peeled
6 whole cloves garlic
6 (10-12-ounce) lamb shanks
Salt
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

Directions:

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

48 comments :

The Quintessential Magpie said...

My MIL would love this, Mary. She is wild for lamb, and we have had lamb several times for Easter at her house. She serves it with a mint sauce she made and entered in a cookbook.

Happy Outdoor Wed!


XO,

Sheila :-)

Claudia@DipityRoad said...

What an awesome shot of those beautiful creatures ;)

Hey-- I became one of your followers, I couldnt believe the number of times I have been here and commented but never until today followed you :)-- if you get a moment, stop by and say hi!

TTFN~~Claudia ♥ ♥

Mary said...

Claudia, I'm so glad you've joined our band of merry men. I'll stop by your place in the morning.

Thoughtfully blended hearts said...

Mary, I always look forward to your lovely posts and this is no exception...the recipe looks so good!!!

luna miranda said...

i'm drooling while reading your post. now i'm craving for some lamb shanks, and trying not to picture these adorable lambs in the slaughter house.:p

KathyB. said...

I will be storing this recipe away for the upcoming year. We seem to have no trouble selling our lambs, and never have any left for ourselves. I am told our breed of lamb / sheep is a lot less fatty and very desired by the "ethnic market" , especially Jewish / Muslim because they are more typical of lamb and mutton they obtain in their home lands.

We and some of our friends do appreciate lamb and this year I will be raising at least one for us. Thank-you for this post high-lighting American Lamb...we in our country need to promote our OWN shepherds and sheep raising operations, our government does not sanction them or protect them as well as they should and most sheep raisers do so at a near loss, and imported sheep products are what most Americans have available to them not even realizing how much good quality lamb and mutton is so easily obtained near-by.

Katy ~ said...

I just love those wooly sheep.

This recipe sounds elegant, company worthy for sure. I haven't had lamb in years and years, but am now inspired to reintroduce it. thank you for this recipe.

Debinhawaii said...

How lucky are you to receive such wonderful lamb to try. I love lamb shanks and the black cherry wine sauce looks amazing.

My Carolina Kitchen said...

Lamb shanks with wine sauce sounds divine. We love lamb at our house. How wonderful you received it and I praise how they are raised. Very nice.
Sam

Hootin' Anni said...

Black Cherry Wine sauce? Oh yum....that alone would make any commoner who lives off cheeseburgers to drool!!! Seriously!!!! Whoa.

And the 'sheeps'....sweet, sweet photo!


My O W is now posted. Today a slide show of us attending the famous Texas King Ranchhand Breakfast. Come see a bit of 'history' if you can.

It's Here

Martha said...

I love lamb shanks -- hard to find on the prairie, however (we get legs and chops). But another great recipe which I'm eager to try!

Suzanne said...

My husband would LOVE this. I've never made lamb for him but he would be a happy guy if I did!

My Little Space said...

I can imagine how tender tasty good is the meat. Absolutely yummy! And more gravy please...

Cathy said...

What a wonderful recipe, Mary. I'm very fond of lamb, especially the shanks. I took a quick look at Lava Lake's site, now I'm going back for a better look.

Ebie said...

Oh, how green the grass is, and the flock is so "woolly" and soft.

I will check out their Photo Album later tonight.

I have always enjoyed your recipes in your blog.

Rhonda @ Shellbelle's Tiki Hut said...

Oh Mary, this sounds delish and you're right the album photos are stunning. My favorite was the baby lamb laying on top of its momma, so cute.

I love reading about the existence of such places. I always tell my kids that food just doesn't taste like it did when I was a child, but places like this bring the flavor back to food. Great post!

Susan said...

Absolutely love lamb! This must be outstanding. Interestingly, my nephew used to live next door to Caprial Pence and his son would eat lunch with her son a lot, over at Caprial's house. Wouldn't that be fun!!

storyteller said...

YUM ;-)
Tasty looking way to serve lamb!
Hugs and blessings,
My Outdoor Wednesday

George Gaston said...

Mary, in my next life I want to be a simple sheep farmer in a small hamlet in rural England; just so I can dine of lamb all the time.

Your Lamb Shanks with Black Cherry Wine sounds divine! Thanks...

Di said...

Mary, I am headed to the freezer! We were fortunate to buy half a lamb last year from friends who raise a few (grass fed) for their own consumption; the best lamb I have ever had.

And I was wondering what I would fix for tonight's dinner! thank you.

Claudia said...

I love to braise lamb shanks - and also do it in wine. Will definitely use your recipe this winter. The photos are gorgeous!

heartnsoulcooking said...

What a DIVINE!!! and ELEGANT!!! dish. I love the wine sauce with dried cherries.
Geri

Debbie said...

This sounds delicious Mary, just like everything you post! Great recipe!

Beverly said...

Oh my, Mary. These look and sound divine.

Erica said...

Love that picture of the lambs. I'm not a lamb fan but my husband Don loves it, so I might be just trying this recipe for him over the Holidays. Thanks for posting......

Chef E said...

I try and make lamb now more than then, and this sounds wonderful...love the pic of the sheep, a nice feel to the piece...

Katherine Aucoin said...

What a lovely item to sample and as always, you did it justice. Very elegant too. The black cherry wine really gives it pop!

Ginger said...

Great sample item and of course wonderful recipe. Lamb is my favorite but nobody at my house will eat it so I wait until I go out. I really would love to try this recipe. The flavors sound incredible!! Thanks Mary.

A Year on the Grill said...

These are beautiful... and what a great freebie. you did them proud.

eileeninmd said...

The Black Cherry Wine sauce does sound yummy. I love the photo of the lambs o are they sheep? So cute.

Vickie's Michigan Garden (my backyard) said...

You always put both together so well- Beautiful picture and recipe!

vickie

Lori E said...

Why do fields of sheep always look so peaceful? Are we conditioned to think of them as something to help us fall asleep?
I like the sounds of this recipe. Is Caprial the same woman who had the cooking show "Cooking with Caprial" several years ago? We don't get her shows here any more.

Mary said...

Yes, Lori that's the same woman. She and her husband are still on PBS. She has a restaurant in Portland and also runs a cooking school there.

hip chick said...

Oh my it does look good.

SmilingSally said...

I've never cared for lamb; perhaps it was not prepared well.

LV said...

Guess I will pass on the meal today. Not too fond of lamb. Yours does sound very good tho.

Anonymous said...

Hi Mary, I'm wondering what can be substituted for the beef broth and chicken broth as we don't get it here in cans or boxes like America. Please help me out as I really would love to try the recipe. It looks gorgeous!!! Thanks!

Leigh of Bloggeritaville said...

HI Mary!
What beautiful photos. And what a most elegant meal with interesting combinations! I am off to check ou tthe website, it soulds most interesting!
I appreciate you dropping by Bloggeritaville.
Leigh Bratina
Tales from Bloggeritaville
www.lbratina.blogspot.com

Mary said...

anonymous...you could use 1 beef bouillon cube and 1 chicken bouillon cube dissolved in 2-1/2 cups water. Be careful not to oversalt at other spots in the recipe.

Chef Fresco said...

Haha I think its funny you started the post with the picture of the little lambs :) Looks tasty!

Cass @ That Old House said...

What wonderful, REAL food! You may have inspired me to cook lamb again.
Cass

Natashya KitchenPuppies said...

OH my! That does look good! I have been getting more into lamb lately. I think it will continue to gain in popularity in North America.
What a great colour on that sauce, so rich and decadent!

sunnymama said...

Love the picture of the lambs! :)

A Little Of This And That said...

Such a yummy blog!!!

free online adventure games said...

I just had grilled lamb loin chops at a restaurant. It was ok, just a little dry, and now this seems like a perfect recipe to make some myself. I like the idea that lamb isn't just reduced to being cooked in a stew.

Julia said...

I love lamb chops and leg of lamb but have never tried lamb shanks. Now they are on my to-do list. Thanks for the inspiration!

Annie said...

The shanks look wonderful - great use of Lava Lake Lamb!

Anonymous said...

Don't give up on balsamic. Try substituting with white balsamic instead. I regularly use it in my cooking to avoid the 'dirty food' effect of dark balsamic.

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