Don’t worry about Summer being over… be ‘Shankful’ it’s Fall! …. OK, that was pretty corny, but as it’s sad that the long warm days of Summer are getting shorter and cooler there is a silver lining… now it’s the season for delicious slow cooked comfort foods.
Lamb shanks are one of our favourites to make this time of year. They are an easy dish to prepare and result in a rich delicious meal. The method we use has minimal prep, a slow roast to start then a few hours of braising. There are so many flavour combinations you can use with lamb shanks – just ask Google and you’ll see. For our recipe we used an adaptation of a recipe we found on Cooks Illustrated (Braised Lamb Shanks with North African Spices). Here’s how we did ours…
Two Step Cooking Method:
- Roast…. Salt & pepper shanks then place in Dutch oven and slow roast low temp (325 degrees) with the lid off for about a ½ hour
- Braise… Take shanks out of pot, set aside. On stove, add a bit of oil to Dutch oven, sweat onions and garlic (or whatever you like), add broth, wine, tomato sauce, any spices you like (we used our own Moroccan Dry Rub instead of the Ras al Hanout that CI used). Bring to a boil for a couple minutes to mix ingredients. Put lamb shanks back in, cover and cook at 275 degrees for 2-3 hours or until the meat pulls away from the bone.
The ingredients we use are all approximate and added to taste. I think that you really can’t go wrong when adding whatever appeals to you – here’s the gist of what we used:
4 lamb shanks
3 Cups broth (we generally use whatever is in the freezer – this time we used chicken broth as that’s what we had)
1 C Tomato sauce
½ C White Wine
1 tbsp olive oil
1 onion – finely chopped
2 cloves garlic – finely chopped
2 tbsp MMJ Moroccan Dry Rub
This time we served it with mashed potatoes, some corn we had in the freezer from earlier this summer and a sprinkle of parsley. Delish!!
As I ponder what type of rib-sticking soup or stew to make on this snowy Saturday I must say that I’m glad we went stock crazy last November. We are still well stocked for soups, sauces, braises, gravies, tortiere – ok you get the idea – everything is better with homemade stock.
We start with quality bones from animals that have been naturally raised without the use of drugs or hormones. The next most important step to great stock is to pre-roast the bones for an hour. Roasting caramelizes any meat on the bones which creates an added depth of flavor.
After we have simmered the bones in water for a couple of hours we throw in celery, onion & carrots and continue to simmer for a few more hours. The aroma that fills the kitchen at this stage is delicious. Note to self… make candles that smell like simmering stock with veggies…ok maybe not.
Once we’re happy with the taste of the stock the bones and soft veggies are removed. We let it cool completely then scrape any fat off the top. It is then brought up to room temperature so it can be strained through a cheesecloth.
Bag it. Label it. Freeze it and enjoy when needed. I like to freeze mine in different size amounts – some 3C, some 2C and a bunch of 1C portions. Every recipe seems to need different amounts so this allows defrosting of only what you need.
Soups and Stock – My OCD freezer… makes me very happy 🙂
If ever there was a place that I went to and really really really didn’t want to leave…. It was Yellowlees Farm.
It was a bright and chilly morning when we went to meet Dennis and Karen Yellowlees at their farm where they have been raising sheep for over 20 years. When we got there they were both busy in separate barns as their ewes had begun lambing. Still, during this busy time they both took time out to show us around, chat and fill us in on their farming practices .
The Yellowlees’ raise their animals in a traditional natural way. No antibiotics in the feed. No growth promoting hormones. All healthy diet and clean beautiful barns and fields. The epitome of what we look for in a farm environment.
As we were standing just inside the barn that held lambs that were a week and older with their moms some little ones kept bouncing up to us to see what we were all about. A few of these lambs were either twins or triplets and they are supplemented with bottle milk so they were the boldest thinking we might have something yummy for them. Adorable!
After a great visit we purchased some samples from Karen and headed on our way.
I am trying to find an excuse to go back an visit Yellowlees Farm – just to be there. It is beautiful, warm, comfortable and peaceful – It is hard to really explain it – you’ll just have to go and see yourself someday.
Update – Feb 15 – I think it’s official – Yellowlees produces one of the best tasting lamb in Ontario. We have had a chance to taste it and also to give to some of our ‘testing friends’ to get their unbiased opinion and the jury is unanimous that it is delicious fantastic lamb. I honestly think that there is not only a connection between what an animal eats and how it tastes but also I believe that how that animal is raised makes a difference in the quality. This one is definitely a winner and we hope to be able to provide this to our customers for sure. B.