Braised Lamb Shanks

The fall days just make me think of hearty, wholesome meals and this lamb shank is the best way to celebrate staying indoors and getting cozy.  The added bonus is that your house will smell dreamy while they slowly roast.

Lamb shank 5

  • 4 lamb shanks
  • salt & pepper
  • all purpose flour
  • olive oil
  • 2 yellow onions, diced
  • 3 celery ribs, diced
  • 2 carrots, diced
  • 2 cups red wine (make sure you use good wine, something you want to sip while the lamb is roasting)
  • 1 cup beef stock
  • 3 garlic cloves, crushed
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 2 ancho chiles, rehydrated in hot water for 20 minutes
  • 2 sprigs fresh rosemary
  • 1 tbsp smoked paprika
  • 1 14 ounce tin of good canned tomatoes

Garnish:  1 minced garlic clove, 1 small diced chili, and a small handful of parsley, all chopped and mixed.

Season lamb shanks with salt and pepper, then dust with flour.

Preheat oven to 300

Heat oil in braising pan, large enough to hold all 4 shanks in one layer.  Brown shanks all over, taking care not to overcrowd the pan.  You may have to do this in stages.

Remove shanks to keep warm while you reheat the pan, add a bit more oil and saute the onions, carrots & celery until they have softened.

Lamb shank 1

Deglaze the pan with red wine, stirring to get all the bits of goodness off the bottom.  Add beef stock, garlic cloves, ancho chili (stem and seeds removed), rosemary, paprika and tomatoes.  Stir well and nestle the lamb shanks back into the mixture.  Cover tightly and put in the oven.

Lamb shank 2

Relax with that wine …… enjoy the aromas coming out of the kitchen ….

This recipe is so forgiving – if you have more time roast at a lower temperature, if you are short, move the temperature up to 350 or 375 and shorten your cooking time.

Check for doneness and as soon as cooked through remove the lamb shanks from the braising liquid and set aside.

Lamb shank 3

The lamb is cooked, but not yet falling off the bone tender, and that is what you are looking for.

Lamb shank 4

At this point, if you want a clear stock, strain the solids off.  If you don’t mind a more rustic stock use your immersion blender or standard blender (if using a standard blender BE SURE to leave the lid off or some place for steam to escape … trust me on this).

Nestle those lamb shanks back into the liquid and continue to roast until the meat literally falls off the bone.

When ready to serve, sprinkle the garnish over top and prepare to enjoy the feast.

 

 

Indian Spiced Chicken Korma

This rich Indian sauce is packed with enough spices and layers of flavour, you will want extra rice or naan bread to mop up every bit of sauce left on your plate.
Korma 8
  • 2 white onions, peeled and cut into quarters
  • 6 cloves garlic, peeled
  • 4 teaspoons curry powder
  • 2 teaspoons ground turmeric
  • 2 teaspoons garam masala
  • 1 teaspoon ground coriander seed
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon cumin
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cardamom
  • 1/8 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
  • 3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 3 large tomatoes, diced small
  • 1 tablespoon freshly grated ginger root
  • 1/2 cup ground raw almonds
  • 1 cup unsweetened canned coconut milk
  • 1 1/2 cups plain low-fat yogurt
  • 1/2 a small red chili, de-seeded and minced (dried or fresh)
  • 1 tablespoon brown sugar (packed)
Korma 7

Key to making a dish like this is to have all your ingredients ready at hand.  Here I’ve blended all the dry spice together so it is ready to be stirred in at the moment I need it.

Korma 2

Chefs call this “mis en place”, which simply means having everything ready to go, BEFORE you start cooking at all.  It sure does make things smoother!

Instructions

  • Place the onions, garlic, and 1 cup of water in the bowl of a blender. Puree until smooth.
  • Measure out the spices (curry powder through nutmeg) into a small bowl.
  • In a large saucepan heat 3 tablespoons of olive oil over medium heat. Once the oil is shimmering, add the pureed onion mixture and cook for a 2-3 minutes, stirring constantly, until it begins to darken in color.

Korma 6

  • Add the tomatoes, ginger, ground almonds, coconut milk, yogurt, red chili, pre-measured spices, and brown sugar. Stir well.

Turn the heat down to low and simmer 30 minutes. Cut the chicken into bite-sized pieces and add to the pan; simmer for an additional 15 minutes. 

Korma 4

I had roasted a whole chicken the day before and felt like this Korma would be the perfect way to eat it all up the next day.  Use a rotisserie chicken for a quick dinner if you don’t have leftover chicken on hand.  Honestly, when we eat out, we usually order lamb korma, so you could just as easily use any protein of your choice – or go vegetarian and stir a bunch of fresh vegetables in.

Korma 3

Served today with homemade naan and the best crispiest crunchiest vegetable pakora!

Lamb Meatballs with Tomato Olive Sauce and Mint

lamb meatballs

 

These meatballs are tender and delicious – the sauce is rich and that mint sauce is a perfect taste to brighten it all up. If you aren’t a big fan of lamb, then use minced pork.

You could buy lamb merguez sausage to make these meatballs, but if that isn’t available to you, this is an easy fix and tastes amazing.

1 pound lean ground lamb

1 tsp salt

1/4 tsp fennel seeds

1 tsp ground cumin

1/2 tsp cinnamon

1/2 tsp ground coriander

1/4 tsp turmeric

3 cloves minced garlic

2 tbsp harissa

1 tbsp tomato sauce

Grind salt and fennel together until smooth, then add the rest of the spices and stir together.  Add in garlic, harissa and tomato sauce to make a paste.  Lightly toss paste with ground lamb, until well blended.

For the best flavour, allow to sit over night but they are great if made into meatballs right away too.

Form balls about 1″ in diameter.  Heat oil until shimmering, then cook meatballs until just crispy on the outside and

 

Meanwhile ….. on roasting pan in moderate oven (375) toss in olive oil:

3 tomatoes, chopped

1 onion, chopped

3 garlic cloves

1/2 cup black olives

 

Roast until vegetables are tender, and blend with enough olive oil to make a smooth sauce.  Season to taste with salt and pepper.

Toss meatballs with tomato sauce and serve with mint sauce.

Mint Sauce

Blend fresh mint leaves with a drizzle of honey, freshly squeezed lemon and olive oil just until smooth – season to taste with salt.

Barbacoa por la desayuna .. .. ?? Si! si! More on Mexico City!

Barbacoa por la desayuna?? Si … Si!!

Our flight to Mexico City was a bit bumpier than usual, but nothing too bad. Arriving at Hotel Puebla around midnight we settled in to a familiar neighbourhood – Roma Norte.

In the morning we were up and on the streets before Mexico City (DF) really came alive. In Grant’s usual fashion we were walking to breakfast about 5 blocks away …. Really I am not sure how many increments of those 5 blocks we walked … maybe 45 minutes? We found El Hidalguense Barbacoa … .this place is only open on the weekends, Friday through Sunday, and usually sells out by noon to 2 ish.

Barbacoa La Higuedense - this lamb pit roasted all night resting on maguey leaves - mouth waveringly tender and delicious.

Barbacoa La Higuedense – this lamb pit roasted all night resting on maguey leaves – mouth waveringly tender and delicious.

The only thing on the menu is barbecued lamb and its accompaniments. Many of them ….
The lamb is butchered and put into a pit to roast and steam on top of maguey leaves (the plant that produces mescal or tequila). The entire lamb is put into this, along with seasonings. There is no testing for seasoning through the cooking process, once it is sealed up with the ingredients and covered with yet more maguey leaves the pit is sealed and the lamb allowed to barbecue roast overnight. In the early hours of the morning the lamb is removed from the pit, juices are poured off to create the soup, and the lamb pieces (included the stomach) removed to another maguey leaf lined wooden crate to keep warm. This is then sold in the restaurant along with all the accompaniments, or sold by the kg to go. This place is busy! With good reason too, the lamb was delicious, and those blue corn tortillas so perfect for serving.

el Hidalguense lamb barbacoa (incorrectly spelled on previous photo!)

el Hidalguense lamb barbacoa (incorrectly spelled on previous photo!)

Our appetites are not used to such a meat fest early in the morning though so we were not really able to do it justice in the form of eating a lot of it, but what we did eat we thought was fantastic. The broth of that soup was unbelievable.

We set out to walk it off and we found a new market – Roma Norte Mercado Organico. This place takes the usual Mexican Mercado to another whole level. What a beautiful building! Such tiny little spots sell a variety of amazing food and beverages. In this market we finally found the sea salt from Cuyutlan that we had walked blocks in search of on our last trip here … Wilson wanted that blog called “Salt of the Earth” ….

Just 1 shot of the magnificent interior of the newest market, in Roma Norte - Mexico City.  Amazing food.

Just 1 shot of the magnificent interior of the newest market, in Roma Norte – Mexico City. Amazing food.

Grant had read about the Mercado, and about the amazing Portuguese tart sold there … naturally we had to try it – yes breakfast dessert following barbecue … I’m still dreaming of the delicious crispy flakiness of the pastry combined with the luscious cream filling.

Exterior of Carlos Slim Gallery (dedicated to his wife), like a shimmering mirror.

Exterior of Carlos Slim Gallery (dedicated to his wife), like a shimmering mirror.

Next was a taxi to a swanky neighbourhood – Polanco. Definitely easy to tell just how swanky by the size of the Saks 5th Ave store ….. Our destination was an art museum built by an individual that was once the wealthiest man in the world – the owner of Telcel, Carlos Slim. Hard to even describe this building, looking like a mirror of unusual proportions … inside is an even harder to describe art gallery – totally round interior in white with wooden floors.

Interior - the entire upper floor filled with the most incredible sculptors work.

Interior – the entire upper floor filled with the most incredible sculptors work.


The first painting to greet us was a Van Gogh! In order to ascend the building, you walk up a sloped ramp along the outside perimeter. Not only are the walls sloping towards you (stay away from the outside edge or you’ll bonk your head) the floors have a slight slope as well. Totally disconcerting, and yes – a little vertiginous. The art housed in the gallery is just beyond belief – Salvador Dali, Monet, Renoir, and Rodin and on and on and on.

Renoir landscapes

Renoir landscapes

One of the many Salvador Dali pieces “Alice in Wonderland”

Italian sculptor - B. Lombardi created this phenomenal lady with a veil

Italian sculptor – B. Lombardi created this phenomenal lady with a veil


It is just wonderful that all this artwork is free to view, and not only that – not behind any type of glass or protective barrier aside from a few of the sculptures that are just to delicate to risk. Alongside all this prestigious artwork is an entire floor dedicated to Sophia Loren – her clothing worn in movies, as well as clothing worn on a daily basis. Again – none of this behind any type of barrier. The Oscar however was in a glass case.

One of the many Sophia Loren outfits from her movies.

One of the many Sophia Loren outfits from her movies.

Lunch was street tacos – pretty much guaranteed to be fabulous in Mexico – and for the grand prize of less than $5.00 we enjoyed shrimp, pork, and chicken tacos with some nice cold water. Served up in a jiffy you – feeling somewhat like you were at Subway – you chose your own toppings for the owner/chef to heap on.

Tacos la Hola - another favourite taco joint on the streets of Mexico city.

Tacos la Hola – another favourite taco joint on the streets of Mexico city.


Salsas and lime available for your own final seasoning and the whole thing was mouth watering, finger licking good. On our way back to Hotel Puebla we stopped at La Ceverceria for a drink – Grant got a cerveca and I got a gin – you should have seen Grant’s eyes pop at the amount of gin he watched the bartender free hand pour in – I was hardly able to get much soda water in there!

Siesta time for a bit – so nice to stretch out after walking a number of 5 block increments.

Dinner was at Yuban – we had been there with Hayley and the girls shortly after they opened a year ago. The place was a lot busier, and with a new team of staff members they are executing Oaxacan cuisine even better than previously.

Yuban Restaurant - absolutely fabulous Oaxacan cuisine.

Yuban Restaurant – absolutely fabulous Oaxacan cuisine.

Venison @ Yuban

Venison @ Yuban


My only concern was the price of a glass of wine – 150 pesos, which is hugely pricey when a top end meal is 236 pesos. Did I splurge anyway? You bet – twice. I’m worth it. We aren’t sure if they thought I was a famous blogger or not with all the photos I was taking but we sure were treated well, including a complimentary house cocktail at the end of the meal – without question the best mescal cocktail I have ever had.

Pretty darn impossible to not love a mescal cocktail that tastes as good as it looks!

Pretty darn impossible to not love a mescal cocktail that tastes as good as it looks!

Smoky mescal combined with refreshing cucumber is a great combo. The new house manager – a young guy, also offered to take us on a 4 hour drive to the smaller village in Oaxaca were they source all their ingredients to make their cuisine. I would have jumped at the chance but Grant remembers those roads better than I ……….. In the end, he also gave me his email and said that if I was ever coming back to be sure to let him know so that he was able to take good care of us … hmm – I’m quite sure he has never heard of http://www.chattykathychatsandcooks.com but you just never know.

After a good night’s sleep we had a quick 5 block walk (translate about 30 minutes) to Monica Patina’s deli – we’ve been there before with the family and you will all know right away how good it was.

Back to the hotel to catch a taxi to the airport and an Interjet flight to Zihuatenajo. Sunshine here we come.

Braised Lamb Shanks

On a fall day the aroma of lamb shanks fills our home with warmth and goodness – a perfect Sunday dinner for the family….

Braised Lamb Shanks

Braised Lamb Shanks

4 lamb shanks
1/2 cup flour
1 tsp salt
1 tsp pepper
1/4 cup olive oil
2 onions, diced
4 cloves garlic
1 1/2 cup celery, diced
1 1/2 cup red wine (seriously – you must use a wine you would be happy to drink!!)
1 28 oz can tomatoes
2 carrots, diced
2 cups beef stock
2 tbsp tomato paste
2 bay leaves
2 tsp fresh thyme
1 sprig rosemary

Garnish: chopped fresh parsley

Mix flour with salt and pepper,
Dredge lamb shanks in flour mixture
Heat oil in large, heavy bottomed ovenproof pot – medium high heat
Add lamb shanks and brown on all sides – set aside when done
Turn down to medium heat and add onions, celery and garlic. Saute until soft and translucent
Add wine to pan and stir up the bits stuck to the bottom of the pan (little flavour packets!)
Add tomatoes, carrots, beef stock, tomato paste, bay leaves and herbs. Stir well
Return browned lamb shanks to pot, covering them with the liquid
Braise – covered – in a 325 oven for at least 2 1/2 hours – maybe 3, turning the shanks half way. You can tell the shanks are done when the meat is about to fall off the bone.

Remove meat and herbs from pot – set aside – use an immersion blender to puree the of the sauce into a smooth gravy.

Set lamb shanks into a serving dish – pour gravy over and garnish with fresh parsley.