About Me
I'm a Melbourne boy, hailing from St Kilda with one ex, one current wife and four kids. Love the outdoors and making new discoveries. I cook a lot at home (cheers from wife) and do some preserving, mostly jams, pickles and fruit liqueurs. This is the diary of a cooking journey.

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Monday, August 14, 2006
Tricks of the Trade
Do you ever go to the market and visit the meat section?

You know the thing, trays and trays of lovely looking chops or steaks or whatever, so you ask for a kilo or two and the assistant gets yours from the bottom of the last tray and then when you get home find the sorriest, scraggiest bits of meat that no-one else wanted. Sometimes a butcher shop will indulge in such skullduggery, usually pulled off by claiming what you want is out the back and you don't get a peak at it until you get home. My sister-in-law never gets caught like this, for she says when they try to pull the chops from underneath that unless she gets the chops she can see, she is not buying anything. And she is right, why should idle slumps that don't get up early have the choicest cuts?

One of my butchers half got me last Friday. In his window were the plumpest looking lamb shanks; its still Winter here so maybe one last hurrah before Spring arrives. Half a dozen shanks would be about right for us, but there were only three in the window. "No worries" said the assistant, "we have more out the back, only they're frozen." For something like a lamb shank, freezing doesn't bother me as the long slow cook renders them perfectly acceptable, so I innocently said okay. 'Out the back' should have woken me up, but it didn't. When I got them home, there were three shanks that had come from the front of the sheep and consequently were long and skinny with not much meat, but exactly the same price as their meatier counterparts from the rear of the sheep.

I hate that. Not the shank, they still cooked up well, just the fact that at my age you would think I would know better!

So, how to have them? Have you ever seen a recipe for lamb with forty cloves of garlic and wanted to try it but were just a teensy bit frightened by the amount of garlic? Well here is a recipe for lamb shanks cooked with half that amount. It produces a gob smackingly good, sticky shank coated with a mellow garlic reduction, great served with lentils or mashed potatoes. Just remember there isn't much sauce.

Lamb Shanks Roasted with Garlic

6 lamb shanks
salt & freshly ground pepper
4 tablespoons olive oil
20 cloves garlic, skin on
150 ml (5 fl oz) white wine

Season the shanks with salt and pepper, then gently brown them in batches, in the oil, in an oven proof pot with a tight fitting lid, big enough to hold them all. When browned put all the shanks in the pot and add the unpeeled garlic cloves, place the lid on the pot and put into an oven preheated to 160 c (320 f). At this low temperature the shanks will produce enough moisture to gently stew, but you need to check them every hour or so, turn them and add a tablespoon or so of water if need be - they must not fry in the oil. After about three hours, the shanks should be meltingly tender and infused with garlic flavour, if so remove them from the pot along with the garlic. Remove as much fat from the leftover juices as possible. Keep the shanks warm and pass the garlic through a sieve, back into the pot along with the white wine. Bring to the boil, scraping any deposits back in and reduce until there is just enough sauce to coat the shanks. Return the shanks to the pot and coat them with the sauce and serve.
  posted at 9:53 am

At 12:25 pm, Anonymous Helen said...

Bad bad butchers! The shanks sound tasty though. I'm sure those juicy ones still sitting in the butchers window wish they were with you instead.

At 6:11 pm, Anonymous Tanna said...

It sounds best when you get to the lentils and mashed potatoes! I usually like the meat for the juices and that was this would be about for me. Garlic, never too much!

At 6:27 pm, Blogger neil said...

Hi helen, sometimes I like bad, bad things, but not butchers.

Hi tanna, this is about the melting, sticky, sweet tenderness of the shanks; everything else is about having a balanced diet.

Ask your friends about the garlic!

At 9:35 pm, Blogger pentacular said...

Neil, you should have gone back to the butcher, slopped the meat down on his nice clean baimarine and said "shanks a lot mate".

At 4:22 pm, Blogger Reb said...

I'm with your sister in law. I always ask to inspect what they've snuk furtively into a plastic bag and secreted in brown paper. They get really cross, but do I look like I care? The recipe sounds delish!

At 5:18 pm, Blogger neil said...

Hi reb, good for you. It's so not fair that someone coming after you gets better goods, just so the display stays nice.

They were really yummy, it felt like the last chance to enjoy before the seasons change.

At 5:20 pm, Blogger neil said...

Hi pentacular, nearly missed you there, very clever!


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