Archive for the ‘Lamb’ category

Mediterranean-style lamb shanks

March 23, 2020

Lamb shanks are one of our faves, and this is a lovely way to do them. Za’atar is a spice mixture that has been used for ages in the middle east. There is no one fixed recipe for it, but the three base ingredients are thyme, sesame seeds, and sumac. Middle Eastern markets will carry it and of course you can get it by mail order. A pressure cooker is ideal, but not required. I serve this with rice or couscous.

4 lamb shanks trimmed of excess fat
1 medium onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, sliced thinly
1/2 c pitted and halved kalamata olives
1 TB za’atar
1/2 c dry red wine
1/2 c beef or chicken stock

Pat the shanks dry, salt and pepper then and dust with some flour. Brown on all sides in a bit of olive oil. Remove from pan. Add the onion and garlic, cook until soft. Add olives, wine, and stock and return shanks to pan. Sprinkle za’atar over all.

To pressure cook: Bring up to pressure using the high setting (if your cooker gives a choice). Cook for 1 hour, let the pressure release on its own for 15 min., then release the remaining pressure manually. Remove the shanks and keep warm. Boil the liquid down rapidly until it is the desired consistency. Skim off excess fat if needed. Spoon some sauce over the shanks and pass the rest at the table.

Regular cooking: The steps are essentially the same as above, but simmer gently for 3 to 3-1/2 hours. Check the liquid now and then and add more stock if needed.

Burgers another way

September 8, 2015

These burgers combine unusual seasoning with a new take on toppings. Slightly adapted from a NY Times recipe, they work best with ground lamb but are also excellent with beef.

1 lb ground lamb or beef
1 c thinly sliced red onion
1 large Japapeño pepper seeded and thinly sliced
1 TB canola or other neutral oil
1 TB ground cumin
1 tsp ground roasted Szechuan peppercorns
Fresh cilantro sprigs (lots!)

You need a large heavy metal skillet that can hold 4 burgers, or else 2 smaller skillets.

Mix well the meat, cumin, Szechuan peppercorns, and salt. Form into 4 equal size balls.

Heat the skillet over medium high heat and add the oil. Add the onion and pepper and saute until partly tender and just starting to brown. Divide the vegetables into 4 equal piles spaced evenly around the pan. Put a ball of meat on each vegetable pile and flatten with a spatula to the desired thickness. Cook for a few minutes then flip and complete cooking. Serve immediately on toasted buns with a big helping of cilantro on each.

Lamb shanks in the slow cooker

July 5, 2013

The shank is one of the most flavorful cuts of lamb, but it needs long, slow cooking to be tender. It is ideally suited to the slow cooker. If possible, get hind shanks, which tend to be a bit meatier than the fore shanks. They come in various sizes, the smaller ones make a nice meal for one person while the larger ones (as in the photo) will ensure some leftovers unless you are truly hungry. The dish, after browning the shanks and ready to start the slow cooking, is shown here.

Lamb shanks

2 large or 4 small lamb shanks
1 large onion peeled and cut into large (1″) pieces
1 c each carrots and celery in 1″ pieces
10 garlic cloves, peeled and left whole
1 bottle of flavorful beer
1 rosemary sprig

The first step is to brown the shanks in a bit of olive oil – trim excess fat, wipe dry, and season with S&P first. I know the hassle of browning sort of goes against the slow cooker philosophy of “throw it in the pot and turn it on,” but it really does improve the flavor.

Put the browned shanks in the slow cooker (discard any browning fat left in the pan) and pile the vegetable over and around them, finishing with the rosemary sprig. Pour half the beer over. Cover and cook on high for 4 hours. Turn the shanks over and add more beer if the pot looks like it might dry out. Reduce heat to low and cook for another 4 hours. Enjoy!

Curried lamb meatballs

April 30, 2011

One of my better inventions! They go well with mashed potatoes or rice.

1 lb ground lamb
2/3 c finely minced onion
1 TB curry powder
1/2 c chopped fresh cilantro
1/2 c applesauce
2/3 c cooked white rice
2 eggs
1/2 c plain dry breadcrumbs
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp freshly ground black pepper
1/2 c tomato puree
1/2 c dry red wine
1 c beef stock

Gently mix the first group of ingredients. Form 1 TB of mixture into a small patty, cook, and taste for seasoning. Correct if needed. Form all of mixture into 1-1/2 inch balls and refrigerate until needed. Heat 2 TB olive oil in a skillet. Dust meatballs with flour and brown in oil. Mix the second group of ingredients and add to skillet. Cover and simmer slowly for 20 minutes, until sauce is thickened and meatballs are done.

Braised stuffed lamb shoulder

April 30, 2011

This is a truly luxurious way to prepare lamb. It is loosely based on a Julia Child recipe. Serve with buttered new potatoes and a cold asparagus salad.

1 boned and rolled lamb shoulder, 3-3.5 lbs
1/2 lb fresh mushrooms, preferably shitake, chopped
1 c cooked and chopped spinach (frozen is OK)
1/3 c diced onion
1/4 c pine nuts
2 minced garlic cloves
1/2 c dry bread crumbs
1 egg
fresh rosemary sprigs
1 tsp dried thyme or 1 TB fresh
1 large onion halved then sliced
1 large carrot peeled and sliced
1 c dry vermouth
2 c (appx) beef or lamb stock
2 TB butter
3-4 TB goose or duck fat (preferred) or oil

Preheat oven to 325f.

Sauté the mushrooms in 1 TB butter until the liquid has all evaporated and they are starting to brown. Remove from pan. In the same pan sauté the diced onion in 1 TB butter until just starting to brown. Add the garlic and pine nuts and stir for a minute or two. Squeeze most of the liquid from the spinach and add to the pan (the spinach, not the liquid!). Return mushrooms to the pan and cook for a moment, stirring. Stir in bread crumbs and remove from heat. Taste carefully for seasoning and correct as needed. When cool stir in the egg.

Remove the netting from the lamb and spread out on a cutting board. Carefully trim excess fat and gristle, but do not remove the fat on the outer surface. Spread the stuffing over the inside of the lamb, making sure to push it down into any pockets. Scatter the rosemary over the stuffing and re-roll the lamb, tying it with several wraps of cotton kitchen string. Use wooden skewers if needed to secure the openings.

Heat half the goose fat in a enameled casserole that is just large enough to hold the lamb with an inch or two of space all around. (Le Creuset’s oval casserole is perfect for this). Add the sliced onion and carrot and saute for 5-10 minutes until starting to brown. Remove from pan. Add remaining fat to pan. Pat the lamb dry and put in fat, seam-down. Brown on all sides and the ends. When the lamb is browned reduce the heat, return the vegetables to the pan, and add the wine, thyme, and enough stock to come about 1/2 the way up the lamb. Cover the lamb with a piece of aluminum foil. Bring to a simmer, cover the casserole, and place in the oven. Cook for 1.5 hours, regulating heat so the liquid is slowly simmering. Remove from oven, turn lamb over, and return to oven for another hour.

Remove lamb to a plate and cover it with a foil tent to keep warm. Pour the liquid through a strainer into a saucepan, pressing the carrots and onions to extract as much liquid as possible. Skim off as much fat as possible and boil down rapidly until you have 1.5-2 cups and the sauce has a nice rich taste. Thicken with 1 TB cornstarch mixed in 2 TB wine. Correct seasoning.

Lamb meatballs with black trumpet mushrooms

April 25, 2011

This recipe resulted when we found a trove of black trumpet mushrooms in the yard. Other mushrooms would work but not be quite as good. Goes well with rice.

By the way, don’t go eating wild mushrooms unless you know what you are doing. The wrong ones can kill you or make you mighty sick.

1 lb ground lamb
1 tennis-ball sized onion
1 egg
1/3 c fine dry breadcrumbs
1 tsp herbs de Provence
1 c fresh black trumpet mushrooms or the equivalent of dried, reconstituted, and drained
1 c veal or beef stock
1 TB tomato paste

Use the metal blade of a food processor to finely chop the onion. Add the lamb, egg, crumbs, herbs, S&P to taste, and mushrooms and process until well mixed. Form into 1 to 1.5 inch balls and refrigerate for 30 minutes or more. Brown in one TB of oil in a skillet. Dissolve the tomato paste in the stock and add to the pan. Cover and simmer for 15 minutes or so, turning the balls once or twice.

Grilled leg of lamb with mustard

April 22, 2011

This is a great way to do lamb on the grill for a fancy picnic. Because you unroll the boned leg, it is not too thick and therefore does not take a long time to cook. Watch the heat – you don’t want the mustard coating to burn.

1 boneless leg of lamb
1 jar Gray Poupon or other brand grainy mustard
5 garlic cloves
2-3 TB olive oil
2 TB dried herbs du Provence (I use Penzey’s)
Salt, black pepper

Untie the leg and discard the netting. Trim off any excess fat (but leave the thin layer that’s on the outside). Put all other ingredients in the mini-blender and zap until well blended. Rub both sides of the lamb with the with this mixture, wrap and refrigerate overnight or at least several hours. Grill over medium-hot coals until medium rare in the thickest parts.

Algerian lamb shanks

April 21, 2011

This is a delicious dish, with rich and complex flavors. It goes well with couscous or rice and an onion, tomato, and parsley salad. It is modified from a recipe I cut out from a cooking magazine many years ago – I do not remember which one!

4 lamb shanks
1-1/2 c coarsely diced yellow onion
1/4 c garlic cloves, peeled and, if large, cut into large dice
1 TB minced fresh ginger
seeds from 3 cardamom pods
large pinch of saffron
1 tsp red pepper flakes
1 tsp ground cloves
1 tsp caraway seeds
2 tsp fennel seeds
4 inch length cinnamon stick
2 TB curry powder
1/2 TB salt
2/3c blanched slivered almonds
1/2c golden raisins
2c peeled and diced tomatoes, or use canned
2c dry white wine*
zest and juice of 1 orange
4 medium carrots, peeled and coarsely diced
1 large bulb fennel, coarsely diced

Dry the shanks and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Brown on all sides in some olive oil in a medium size Dutch oven, then remove from the pan. Add a little more oil, reduce heat to medium and sauté onions and garlic until the onions are soft but not browned. Add all the ingredients between the ***** and cook for 5 minutes, stirring frequently. Add tomatoes, wine, orange juice and zest and bring to a simmer. Return shanks to the pan and braise in a 325-350 degree oven for about 2 hours, regulating the heat so the liquid remains at a steady simmer. Add the carrots and fennel and cook for 20 minutes more.

* Use something sturdy here – I have used a white Spanish Rioja with good results.

Bhratti (curried lamb and rice)

April 21, 2011

Definitely Indian in inspiration, although probably not an “authentic” Indian recipe. Serve with chutneys and a cucumber salad. Yu can use beef in place of the lamb, but the result won’t be as good.

2c basmati rice, not rinsed
2 medium onions, diced
2 TB of hot or mild curry powder, or a mix, according to your taste
4c water
1 tsp salt
1 lb ground lamb
1/4c oil
1/2 chopped fresh basil

You’ll need a large saute pan (12″) or skillet with a tight-fitting cover. Heat the oil over medium high heat. Add the onions and cook, stirring, until just starting to brown. Add the lamb and curry powder and cook, stirring, until the lamb is cooked though. Pour mixture into a sieve set over a bowl and let drain. Return the oil that you just drained to the pan over medium heat. Add the rice and stir until coated with oil and translucent, a few minutes. Add the water and salt, bring to the simmer, and cover. Cook over low heat until water is absorbed, about 15 min. Stir in the lamb mixture and the basil and cook for a few more minutes before serving.

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