13 June 2011

thanks for the shanks!

It's winter and it's time for hearty, rich, warming, sleep inducing kinda meals.  One-pot wonders, slow cooked falling off the bone meat dishes, deep coloured fragrant cooking liquids, lugs of wine, and liberal use of ingredients such as cream and butter.  Let's not forget the carb loaded sides like creamy mash and more artisan bread than your breadbox has space for to mop it all up.

But it's all good.

Here's how I see it.  Strictly speaking, winter's only for 3 months right?  I'm happy to carry that bit of extra weight and fat for that time.  Afterall there's always spring to start that diet or detox, in time for the summer months.  I mean there are other things we can put in our bodies that are FAR more harmful than a bit more fat and carbs than the norm for 3 months.

So as of last week, the dinner menu at home featured a few of the winter stalwarts - pumpkin soup, stroganoff, lamb shanks and creamy mash.

I've tried making lamb shanks at home a couple of times in the past, but they've never really turned out the way I wanted them to.  This time round, I got a recipe off Rohan from Whole Larder Love after reading one of his recent blogposts.  I tinkled with the recipe a tiny bit, mainly because of what I had on hand to use in my kitchen.

I've got to say, I was well pleased with the final product.  I served the shanks with the only thing that should be served with it (in my opinion anyway) - creamy mash potatoes.  I also did something different with my mash this time - on a whim, I added some english mustard.  The twist in taste actually worked I thought, especially paired with the very rich tasting shanks.  And it gave the potato mash a really lovely yellow colour (which isn't really showing up in the photos I took!).  Saturday night dinner was soooo good.

So, thanks for the shanks {recipe} Rohan! :)

Lamb Shanks with Creamy Mustard Potato Mash
Adapted slightly from recipe provided by Whole Larder Love

2 large lamb shanks, frenched if possible
Extra virgin olive oil or rice brand oil (about 1/4 cup or 4 tbsp)
1 onion, roughly chopped
2 carrots, chopped into medium cubes
4 sticks of celery, chopped roughly same size as carrots
4 garlic cloves, finely chopped
1 can of italian tomatoes
1 tsp each of dried sage and rosemary (use fresh herbs if you can, I didn't have any)
1 cup red wine (I had a bottle of cabernet merlot, but use whatever you like)
1 cup of beef stock
Salt and cracked pepper

  1. Preheat oven to 200C / 400F.
  2. Heat up your oil in a deep ovenproof casserole dish or heavy based fry pan over medium heat, and brown the lamb shanks all over.  Remove once nicely browned and set aside.
  3. In the same casserole dish/ fry pan add in the onions, carrots and celery and saute for a few minutes until softened, then add the garlic and cook for another minute. 
  4. Add the red wine to the pan and cook for a couple of minutes to cook away the alcohol in the wine.
  5. Add the beef stock, can tomatoes and herbs.  Season with salt and cracked pepper to taste.  Cook for another two minutes.
  6. If you're using a casserole dish, place lamb shanks back into the dish.  If you're using a heavy based fry pan, tip everything (lamb shanks included) into an oven-proof casserole dish.  Ensure that the lamb shanks are covered by the liquid.  Cover and cook - if your casserole dish does not have a cover, use heavy foil to cover the top of your dish tightly.
  7. Cook covered in the oven for 2 to 2 1/2 hours.  By which time, the meat will be just falling off the bone and ready to be served!

Creamy Mustard Potato Mash

4 large-ish sized potatoes (floury variety - Agria and Red Rascal is my fav)
50g butter
1/4 cup each milk and cream
2 tsp of english mustard

  1. Skin and quarter the potatoes. You can leave the skins on, which i do sometimes in my mash, depending on my mood.
  2. Boil the potatoes in salty boiling water until cooked and soft - you should be able to run a knife very easily through the biggest chunk of potato you have boiling in your pot.
  3. Just before your potatoes are cooked through, mix the milk and cream together in a microwave-proof bowl or jug and zap on high for about 30-40 secs.  You want the mixture hot, but not boiling.
  4. Once cooked, drain the potatoes well and mash them.  If you have a ricer, that'll be best.  If not, a good old fashioned hand masher works fine.  As best as you can, mash the potatoes well until there are no lumps.
  5. Then working quickly (whilst the mash is still hot), add the butter, milk and cream mixture and mustard.  With a wooden spoon or silicone spatula, mix it all up until soft and creamy.  If you've salted your water well earlier on, you won't have need additional salt to the mashed potatoes.
  6. Serve hot with lamb shanks, oxtail or any of your favourite casseroles or stews.  Or eat it on its own - so good for the soul!


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