Monday, May 28, 2018

Lamb shanks

IMG 9494
Eastside Road, May 27, 2018—

SURELY ONE OF the great recipes is Richard Olney's for braised lamb shanks. It is simple, complete, and inspired, and it never fails. We have followed it scores of times over the years, and both Cook and I could no doubt prepare the dish from memory.

We never do, of course; we always return to the book, Simple French Food . And I, at least — I don't know about Cook — always realize the procedure has long since been completely internalized. I wrote about it here, nine long years ago:

Ask the butcher to saw the lamb shanks into slices a couple of inches thick. Brown them on all sides in a little olive oil in a heavy pot with a close-fitting lid; then throw in a head of garlic, the cloves separated but not peeled, and let them cook very slowly — we use an asbestos pad under the pot and turn the flame as low as possible. The meat will form its own juice.

After an hour or two sprinkle dry herbes de Provence on the meat and let it cook as much longer as you like. When all the liquid's gone you might want to sprinkle a few drops of water on the meat; we've never found that necessary.

Remove the meat to a hot platter, deglaze the pot with a little white wine, and pass the glaze and the garlic cloves through a food mill to make a heavy sauce for the meat. Serve with noodles.

I just Googled "olney lamb shanks simple" and found a few adaptations of the recipe (along with my own 2009 post, quoted above). One cooks the shanks with Vermouth. Another serves the meat with cannelini. I can't think why anyone would do either of these things. Olney's recipe is perfect. Lamb, garlic, herbes de Provence, white wine. It's all you need, and you do want to serve it with egg noodles.

About those herbes de Provence: This is about the only time we use them, so they're getting a bit long in the tooth — I bought our current supply in the market in Nice five years ago. They're a little dusty, but thanks to Ziplock still aromatic. Lamb, Provence, red wine. Dinner on the patio with much of the family around us: marvelous.

     🍷White: La Ferme Julien; "Madam Preston." Red: L. Preston, Preston of Dry Creek IMG 9495

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