Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Braised lamb shank with sweet peppers and feta on a bed of sweet potato mash ... in the Thermomix

Since we've moved to wine country, we have some lovely neighbours. Not new neighbours, since we've known Gay and Warren for 10+ years from when my parents owned the house we're in now, till when we bought the house but never lived in it cos we had it rented out and now.

It has become a bit of a thing where we have Gay and Warren over to dinner (and you know how much I love cooking for company) perhaps once every 3 or 4 weeks. Since we've been up here for 5 months, I think they've been over to dinner as many times. I love the challenge of coming up with something new each time and hopefully not repeat myself too much.

This time when Gay and Warren came over for dinner, I decided on something slow cooked. Slow cooked because the meat was going to be very melt in your mouth tender and because I thought it would be better for Gay's 95 year old dad who was coming over to dinner too - you know, on account of he may not be able to chew something tough!

I picked out two recipes to try and decided to go with the lamb shanks as I had not cooked lamb in a while. The recipe came from The New Slow Cooker by Brigit Binns.

Here is the recipe:

  • 4 - 6 lamb shanks, about 1lb (500g) each, trimmed of fat
  • Salt and freshly ground pepper
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 yellow onion, finely chopped
  • 1 large carrot, finely chopped
  • 1 stalk of celery, finely chopped
  • 3 bay leaves
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1/2 cup beef stock
  • 1/4 cup dry white wine
  • 1 yellow bell pepper, thinly sliced
  • 1 red bell pepper, thinly sliced
  • 2 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 3 tablespoons continental parsley, coarsely chopped
  • 1 cup crumbled feta

  • Season the lamb shanks generously all over with salt and pepper. In a large pan over medium high heat, warm 2 tablespoons of olive oil. When oil is hot, working in batches if necessary to avoid crowding, add the shanks and sear, turning as needed, until golden brown on all sides, about 8 minutes total. Transfer to plate.
  • Pour off most of the fat from the pan and return it to medium high heat. Add onion, carrot, celery, bay leaves, oregano and cumin, saute until vegetables are golden, 6 - 8 minutes. Pour in stock and wine and stir to dislodge any browned bits on the pan bottom. Transfer the contents of the pan to a slow cooker and stir in 1/2 teaspoon salt and several grinds of pepper. Place the lamb shanks on top. Cover and cook on low setting for 7 hours, basting once or twice with the braising liquid if possible. The meat should be very tender.
  • Carefully transfer the shanks to a platter. Cover to keep warm. Strain the braising liquid into a small saucepan, let stand for a few minutes, then skim away the fat with a large spoon. Bring to boil over high heat and boil until reduced by about half, about 5 minutes.
  • In a frying pan, over medium high heat, warm the remaining 1 tablespoon of olive oil. Add the bell peppers and saute until just beginning to soften, about 10 minutes. Add garlic and cook for 1 minute more. Remove from heat, stir in parsley and season with salt and pepper.
  • Divide the lamb shanks among warm individual plates and drizzle with the reduced braising liquid. Top each shank with a spoonful of the sauteed peppers. Sprinkle the feta over the top and serve immediately.

The recipe worked a complete treat.

One of the things that I have learned over the years of slow cooking is that the recipes never tell you to put in enough liquid. This one was no different. It asked for only a total of 3/4 cup of liquid. If something is going into the oven and cooking for 7 hours (the way I slow cook, with a dutch oven casserole pot in the oven at 120°C) the liquid is going to evaporate. I'd even hazard a guess and say that if you were using a crock pot, you'd still get a fair amount of evaporation after that long. I ended up adding 1 cup of white wine and 3 cups of beef stock into the pot. By the time we were done, the liquid had mostly evaporated but there was still enough left for sauce.

For the sweet potato mash, I used this recipe for mashed potatoes in the Thermomix, but substituted regular potatoes with sweet potatoes. It turned out beautifully.

If you want a non-Thermomix way to make mashed potatoes, here is a recipe that also makes absolutely delicious mash. Again, just substitute regular potatoes for sweet potatoes.

To serve, I spooned a serve of sweet potato mash onto the centre of my dinner plate, then placed the lamb shank on top of the mash. Then I placed some of the sweet peppers onto top of and around the lamb shank. After that, I scooped a spoon of the gravy along with the cooked down bits of carrot, celery and onion (I didn't strain it as the recipe said and it didn't need reducing since it had already reduced by about 75% over the 7 hour cooking process) on top of the lamb shank. To finish, I crumbled some feta cheese around the lamb shank.

As a side, I served some steamed broccolini with the dish so that we would have some greens to go with the meal.

This dish was full of flavor and the lamb shanks were incredibly tender. There was flavor bursting in our mouths with every bite.

If you do make this, be sure to post pictures for me to see either on Instagram - be sure to tag me with @langshipley or on my Daz In The Kitchen Facebook page.

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