Friday, June 3, 2011

Herbed Lamb Shanks

I’ve long believed that one of the best things about inviting guests to dinner is that you get to try new recipes. That can be a bit of a high-wire act, because some recipes don’t work as well as you might hope, but things usually turn out - or can be fixed, if they don’t.

This particular recipe doesn’t require that you say the Rosary or keep your fingers crossed in the hope that it will turn out. Not only is it guaranteed to be splendid, but it’s guaranteed to make lamb lovers out of lamb haters. Because these shanks are prepared in the slow cooker, their preparation requires only minimal effort. It’s a fabulous company dish that has the added advantage of filling the kitchen with the most magnificent aromas! The flavor is outstanding and the meat falls off the bone. What could be better, Dollinks?

I want to take a moment to talk to you about “crock pots” or slow cookers. My bottom-line advice? Get one. They’re well worth it. I have a large oval one, in which I’ve cooked today’s recipe, and a small circular one, in which I make soups and stews. If you have the storage room, it’s very useful having two different sizes. If you don’t have the room, buy a large one, giving you the flexibility to cook for a crowd. If you live alone and can barely tolerate reading this blog, then honey, treat yourself to a small one and find some slow-cooker recipes. For an effortless meal that’s ready and waiting at the end of the day, there’s nothing better. I’ll step down from my podium, now.

Today’s recipe requires next-to-no-preparation time and next-to-no-work. My dear friend Lorna passed it along more than a decade ago, and I’ve been making it, ever since. This truly is one of my favorite recipes!

                                       This recipe requires a slow cooker
Herbed Lamb Shanks:
6 meaty lamb shanks (large shanks may need more cooking time)
3 cloves garlic, slivered
1 tsp. salt
½ tsp. pepper
1 tsp. ground ginger
2 crumbled bay leaves
1 tsp. rosemary
1 tsp. thyme
2 tbsp. dark soy sauce
1 tsp. sage
2 tbsp. oil
Combine all ingredients except lamb shanks in large bowl. Using clean hands, rub mixture over each shank. Place lamb in crock pot, pouring any remaining liquid over shanks (I used three New Zealand lamb shanks to make this recipe for dinner this evening, but did not adjust the liquid or the seasonings. It seems to turn out fine no matter what you do - or don’t do!). Turn slow cooker to “low” setting. Cook 6-to-7 hours. Voilà!

Note: This recipe makes a fabulous au jus. I suggest you drain it off shortly before the lamb finishes cooking. Freeze it immediately, skimming off the hardened fat before reheating the jus. This stock is the basis for a beautiful gravy. You can thicken it with a little flour, or do what I do, which is to serve it over the lamb and potatoes or rice au naturel - less work, fewer calories! 

Note: If this recipe appeals to you, you’ll also enjoy my Herb-Crusted Rack of Lamb (April 25, 2011 blog). Click once on each of the images below to enlarge them.

Two crock pots ... two choices. Large shanks ... large pot!
Rub each shank with combined seasonings, soy, and oil.

Cook, covered, 6-to-8 hr.

Mmmm ... the aroma! Wait awhile. Then wait some more.
Do lambs go to heaven? Because these shanks 
are to die for - and taste heavenly!

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