Oct 11 2012

Braised Lamb Shanks (Moira)

 

Braised Lamb Shanks

You will land any girl with this melt-in-the-mouth lamb on a cold, wintery Sunday afternoon or evening. Simple to prepare and cook – just bring a nice bottle of red to the table to go with it.

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Ingredients

For two people, use the measures below.

  • 2 lean lamb shanks
  • 1 large carrot
  • A good large glass of red wine
  • 1 stick of celery
  • 1 garlic clove
  • 2 large tomatoes (chopped into quarters)
  • 1 onion (sliced)
  • About 1 pint of beef (or chicken) stock – use a stock cube and boiling water is fine
  • 2 bay leaves
  • A squirt of tomato puree (about a tablespoon)
  • Olive oil
  • 2 teaspoons of brown sugar
  • Salt and pepper to your own preference
  • A couple of sprigs of rosemary

 

How To Cook It

Preheat your oven to 300 degrees F  (150 degrees C). Cover the bottom of a heavy casserole pot (with a lid) with olive oil – about 4 tablespoons.
Dice your carrots, celery, onion & garlic (I like to do them quite chunky) – then ‘fry’ (sauté) slowly at a medium heat in the casserole pot  for 10-15 minutes.  Add the tomatoes towards the end along with the sugar and the tomato puree. Give it a good stir and add the wine. Keep it on a medium heat and cook until the level of the liquid reduces by about half. Stir occasionally as it reduces so nothing sticks to the bottom.
Generously salt & pepper your lamb shanks (rub it in) and add the meat to the cooking vegetables and wine when it has reduced. Some people like to brown the outside of the shanks in a frying pan before they add them in (and you are welcome to do this but I find if you turn the shanks every 20-30 minutes or so once they are in the oven, they brown anyway).

Add your bay leaves and stock, bring up to ‘bubbling’ but not boiling furiously. Turn it off.
Put the lid on and place in oven for about 3 hours, turning the shanks every20-30 minutes or so until the meat is so tender it wants to fall off the bone.

How To Serve It

Lift out the lamb shanks and place each one on a plate. Ladle over a tablespoon of the juice and add a sprig of rosemary over the top of the shank (or alongside it). Keep it simple on nice white plates ideally.

Skim off any fat on top of the wine juices and throw away. Spoon the vegetables etc. out of the juice and into a bowl. – one of those big spoons with holes in chaps – we don’t want the vegetables swimming in juice once they’re in the bowl! Put some of the juice in a gravy jug so that she can put on as much or as little as she wants. If it’s to your taste, you can thicken up the juice with a little gravy powder in a small saucepan on a low heat (or blend in a little cornflour mixed with cold water if you want to do it properly).

You can do potatoes as well if you want (mash or roast are nice with this) but this is a filling enough meal with just the vegetables.

 

Variations

You can make this with white wine too. I would say use beef stock with red wine and chicken stock with white wine. If you don’t like wine in food – not everyone likes to drink until they get arrested – just substitute it with a tin of chopped tomatoes instead and reduce it as if you were using the wine.

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Enjoy!

Moira


Oct 11 2012

Mushroom Risotto (Karen)

 

Mushroom Risotto

 

Darlinghearts, this is my favourite Italian dish and can be served as either a starter or a main course and is obviously a great choice if your partner is a vegetarian too.

 

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Ingredients

For a starter course for two, use the measures below. If you want it as a main course, add about 50% more to these ingredients.

  • 1 small onion – chopped as small as you can
    1 clove of garlic – chopped as small as you can (you can ditch this if you don’t like garlic)
    Fresh mushrooms – chopped into chunks about the size of your small fingernail – a handful or two once chopped
    1.5 pints of chicken or vegetable stock (use a cube such as Oxo that you add boiling water too)
    A large glass of dry white wine
    2 good cupfuls risotto rice (make sure it’s risotto rice – it usually comes in small cardboard boxes)
    salt and pepper (but not too much – a couple of pinches of each)
    About 3-4 tablespoons of good (extra virgin) olive oil

…..and a couple of handfuls of grated parmesan cheese and a handful of finely chopped parsley

 

How To Cook It

I usually do this in a wok as it’s easier to stir and the rice absorbs the stock quicker. Otherwise, use a large saucepan – and you need a stirring spoon (wooden is best).

Heat the oil in a pan on a medium heat, add the onion & garlic and cook gently for 10 minutes, stir occasionally and make sure it isn’t sticking to the pan. Get them ‘cooked’ rather than ‘brown.’ Remove the pan from the heat. Add your mushrooms (and salt and pepper) and stir into the warm onions and garlic. Let the pan stand for 5-10 minutes.

Now raise the heat (but not up to full – about ½ way on your dial), add the rice and cook for five minutes – stirring gently – then add the wine and give it a good stir. Let it stand for 10 minutes while you go and make/boil your stock.

Put your pan back on a low heat (about ¼ of the way) and warm it up. Add a cupful of your stock and cook, stirring constantly, until it has been absorbed into the rice – the rice will ‘soak it up’ after a few minutes. Be patient and make sure it has been fully absorbed. If you don’t want to spend ages in the kitchen while your guest is here, you can do the prep up to this point before your guest arrives and then continue below i.e. partly pre-cook it an hour or two earlier.

Once one cupful of stock has been absorbed, add another and keep stirring until that cupful has been absorbed (keep being patient – make sure it has been absorbed).Keep adding cupfuls and letting it absorb until you run out of stock. It can take 30  minutes or so. Keep stirring – try not to let it stick to the pan.

As it continues to cook, test taste a couple of grains of rice occasionally once all the stock has been absorbed. When it’s almost cooked (90% of the way there – what’s called “al’dente”) turn off the heat, add ¾ of the parmesan cheese and also add ½ of the chopped parsley and give it a good final stir. Cover your saucepan and allow it to sit there for a few minutes until the rice is thick and creamy (not watery and runny)

 

How To Serve It

It’s best to serve rice dishes like this in a shallow bowl rather than a flat plate – spoon the rice into each bowl. Keep it simple and make sure you serve it warm, as soon as it’s cooked. Put a little chopped fresh parsley on top and drizzle a little olive oil over it. It goes nicely with a cold glass of an Italian white wine such as Frascati. Goes well with champagne too!

 

Variations

Be adventurous with your choice of mushrooms – try something different such as wild mushrooms or porcini (or mixed dried mushrooms that you have soaked overnight). Don’t just go for the bog standard supermarket ones. I use the big horse mushrooms to make this at home. If you used dried mushrooms, keep the water you soaked them in for your stock as it adds flavour to the rice.

If you know how to make fresh chicken or vegetable stock it always tastes better but cubes are fine. Mix in a little walnut oil or truffle oil to the olive oil if you like the taste of either of those. Truffle oil goes really well with it.

You can of course substitute the mushrooms for anything and make other types of great risottos: prawns, asparagus, chicken, peppers, etc. or even just plain with a little pinch of saffron and chopped chives. Once you have mastered this basic mushroom risotto, experiment and find out what you (and your lady!) like best.

 

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Hope you enjoy it.

Love,

Karen 🙂