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Sunday, March 11, 2012

A Rare Find: Recipe

There is a very important lesson to learn in cooking - find a butcher and make friends.  Grocery stores are terrific but there is nothing like a hometown butcher - someone who can help you find the right cut of meat for your recipe or someone who can educate you on cooking times, textures, etc. And (to me) most importantly, someone who sells so many varieties of meat that I can always find what I'm looking for!

The other day I came across a recipe that I wanted to play with but I knew the grocery store would not have lamb shanks in stock so I ventured to the butcher and sure enough - there were plenty! And oh my gosh - these were incredible - meat fell off the bone with just a gentle prod with a fork. The flavors were rich yet not overly complex. A real winner!

Lamb Shanks with Wine and Vegetables
4 1 1/4 - 1 1/2 lb. lamb shanks
1/2 cup flour
1/4 cup olive oil
6 large carrots, coarsely chopped
3 large celery stalks, coarsely chopped
2 medium onions, finely chopped
3 large garlic cloves, finely chopped
1 tablespoon tomato paste
2 cups chicken stock
2 cups dry white wine (ex. Sauvignon Blanc)
6 fresh parsley sprigs
3 small fresh thyme sprigs
1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
1 large fresh rosemary sprigs
2 dried bay leaves

Pour flour, salt and pepper into a large plastic bag. Place the shanks into the bag and shake well to fully coat all the shanks with flour. Meanwhile, heat the oil in a large, deep, heavy pot over medium-high heat. Place the shanks into the pot - (be sure to do this in batches so you don't crowd the meat) and brown on all sides - about 10 minutes per batch. Remove the shanks to a plate and saute the onion, carrots and celery over medium heat until soft; about 10 minutes.

Next add the garlic and stir, then add the wine and the stock as well as the paste and oregano and stir well. Add back the shanks so they all fit snugly and add the parsley, rosemary and bay leaves. Raise the heat and bring the mixture to a rolling boil. Next lower the heat to a simmer, cover, and let cook for about 3 hours or until the meat is falling off the bone.

Remove the meat from the pot, remove the bay leaves and remaining herb sprigs and spoon off the accumulated fat. Turn up the heat and boil the remaining liquid for about 5 minutes - spoon some liquid over the shanks and top with the vegetables from the pot.

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