Saturday, February 23, 2008

Dark Days Challenge Week 7: Braised Lamb Shanks and Cabbage over Rice

I know I said weeks ago that I would be making braised lamb shanks soon, but life got in the way. It was hard to find time to go to Union Square to procure the shanks from 3-Corner Field Farm, and then to find at least three hours to hang out in the house while the shanks cooked away in the oven. This weekend, I worked out a plan - Saturday I would stay home, bake bread, and cook lamb for diner, and then Sunday we could go out and play, somewhere upstate to indulge fantasies of wanting to move out of the city.

So while Jesse went out drinking in the afternoon (his typical weekend activity), I baked a loaf of bread, made crackers inspired by Straight by the Farm (that turned out too thick and tough because I didn't roll them thin enough and I skimped on the oil, so be careful about that), made a hummus with kale that turned out fab, made braised lamb, and and braised cabbage. I was going to make them in the same pan, until I realized that lamb is meant to braised in red wine and green cabbage is not. So two separate pans it was. And then Jesse made the rice. We used Red Himalayan Rice that was a gift from Jesse's mom, but you could also serve this over brown rice, polenta, or mashed potatoes. And then after we ate I did all the dishes while he watched TV. Housewife much??

After all that we were too full on crackers and hummus to really enjoy the meal. But at least we will have lots of tasty leftovers. I was a little disappointed by how fatty the lamb tasted, but maybe I should have expected that. Or maybe I should have done a better job cutting off the fat (I am horrible at cutting off fat, it's so hard to maneuver a slippery piece of meat and a knife.) But still overall a good dinner - tender meat falling off the bone, with soft warm wedges of cabbage and sweet red rice.

Braised Lamb Shanks
olive oil
2 lamb shanks
1/2 onion
2 cloves garlic
1 cup red wine
2 cups chicken stock

Preheat oven to 325.
Trim fat off the lamb shanks.
Brown shanks in butter and olive oil over medium high heat, about 3 minutes on each side. Remove lamb and drain off most of the fat.
Add a little more olive oil to the pan and return lamb to pan. Sautee diced garlic and onion over medium heat with the lamb.
Once onion has softened, add red wine, salt and pepper. Bring to boil and then let simmer a few minutes until wine has reduced by half.
Add chicken stock, bring to boil, and let simmer a few minutes. Transfer everything to a casserole pan and add additional stock if needed, until shanks are covered halfway. Cover pan and place in oven.
Let braise in oven for 2 1/2 hours until tender, turning shanks over halfway.
Serve each lamb shank over rice and cabbage, with spoonfuls of the sauce the lamb was cooked in.

Braised Green Cabbage
1 medium head green cabbage
1/2 onion
2 cloves garlic
1/2 cup chicken stock
olive oil

Once lamb shanks are in oven, prepare cabbage. Discard outer layer of green cabbage. Chop off bottom core. Cut into approximately eight wedges. Lay cabbage in a large baking dish. Dice onion and garlic and scatter over pan. Pour in chicken stock. Sprinkle with salt and pepper and olive oil. Cover and let braise in oven for 1 1/2 hour until tender.

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