We have been loving having so much amazing meat in our freezer again! We've got our lamb and pork of course, some of last year's chickens and a few stewing hens that didn't make the winter roster, and also some grassfed beef which we traded for pork and lamb with our friends at Little Trickle Farm. I don't know about you, but for me winter is the time for cooking those long, slow roasts that fill the house with warmth and amazing smells all day.
This week we made Lamb Shanks. I had never cooked lamb shanks before but it wasn't hard, and the result was amazing. The shanks are the bottom portion of the leg of the lamb. Because they are a grazing animal and spend their days walking around, these muscles get a lot of work. It's better (so I'm told) to cook them long and slow, with moisture, to bring out the best flavour and get them nice and tender. And lo and behold, the meat was amazingly tender and flavourful: I have been so pleased with all of the lamb cuts we've cooked so far - sweet, mild, with amazing depth of flavour.
If it's any testament, my 2-year-old literally gobbled up every single bite before touching anything else on her plate, and then asked me for my bone so she could gnaw on it, too... Anyways. Here's what we did:
Braised Lamb Shanks
I started out with this recipe for Braised Lamb Shanks as a guide, but to be honest I didn't really follow it very closely. The prep really didn't take that long, and the aromas of the meat made our house feel so cozy and inviting for the hours it was cooking...
I browned the lamb shanks in a bit of olive oil in my dutch oven until they looked a nice crispy golden brown.
Then I used the lamb fat to sauté some finely chopped onion, garlic, celery and carrot.
I added some thyme and rosemary, salt and pepper, and tomato paste and let it all cook down until my kitchen smelled amazing.
Then I added a cup and a half or so of white wine (though red wine would have been better, I think), put the lamb shanks back in, and added just enough water to mostly cover them.
I put the lid on, popped 'er into the oven at 400 for about 2 hours, then with the lid off I cooked it for an additional half hour.
We served the Lamb Shanks with some carrots, brussel sprouts, and mashed potatoes (to soak up some of the amazing sauce).
As we've been teaching our 2 year old lately: "We say thank you to the sheep for giving us meat."
Thank you, sheep!