Experience in the Kitchen Continues to Grow With my Appetite

May 11, 2011

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I have grown up in a family in which the only meat eaten in the house was chicken, turkey, or seafood. I have lived this way for nearly 20 years and have watched my parents cook up some delicious meals, but to become the cook I want to be, I have widened my food palate.

I’ve tried bone marrow paired with a sweet apple chutney, duck egg, lamb tartar, pork belly, and duck liver paté . . . the list goes on!

I decided to continue my first-time tries with a recipe from The Garden-Fresh Cookbook: Lamb Shanks With Vegetables. When I came home with lamb shanks, my mom’s eyes widened a bit. A healthy dish, yes, but one I had never tried before, and most definitely a dish my parents never thought would be making in their oven!

Despite different food preferences, even my mom couldn’t deny the savory aroma coming from the kitchen. I was surprised at how easy lamb shanks were to make. The sweet onion, carrots, tomato, garlic, orange juice, and water all went into the same casserole dish. It was all up to the slow cooking now! Be sure to give yourself 3 hours for the lamb shanks to bake—once they come out of the oven, they’ll pull right off the bone and will be worth the wait.

I was joined by my neighbor and very dear friend, Beau, for dinner. I plated the Lamb Shanks with Cucumbers With Feta Cheese Dressing, also from The Garden-Fresh Cookbook. The cucumbers with feta cheese were an excellent balance to the sweetness of the lamb and the onions and a great color combination for a dinner-party plate! The lamb shanks themselves were a beautiful color and, as predicted, pulled effortlessly off the bone.

It’s always fun to indulge in a food delicacy, especially while I am trying and cooking new foods. If you find you have a few hours before the dinner bell rings, this might be just the dish for the evening!

Lamb Shanks With Vegetables

Be sure to bake this entrée in a nonreactive pan, or the acids in the tomatoes and orange juice will react with the metal.

4 lamb shanks (2-1/2 to 3 pounds, total)
2 tablespoons minced garlic
1 cup chopped sweet onion
1 cup chopped carrots
1 cup chopped tomatoes
1/2 cup orange juice
1 tablespoon butter (optional)
1 tablespoon all-purpose flower (optional)
salt and pepper, to taste (optional)
1/2 teaspoon tomato paste or ketchup (optional)
2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley or 1 tablespoon chopped fresh mint, for garnish

Preheat the oven to 300°F. Place the lamb shanks, garlic, onion, carrots, and tomatoes in a baking dish just large enough to hold them. Add the orange juice and 1/2 to 1 cup of water to cover, then cover the dish. Bake for 3 hours. Remove from the oven and set aside for 20 minutes. Before serving, skim off the fat from the surface of the sauce.

For a thicker sauce, pour the cooked juices (1-1/2 to 2 cups) into a measuring cup. In a saucepan over medium heat, melt the butter. Take the pan off the heat, add the flour, and stir to blend. Return the pan to medium heat, stir for 2 minutes, then add the cooked juices. Cook and stir until the sauce thickens. Add the salt and pepper and tomato paste to deepen the flavor. Pour the sauce over the lamb and vegetables.

Garnish with parsley. Makes 4 to 6 servings.
 

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Jane received her Bachelor's in Fine Arts at Western Washington University where she studied Creative Writing. She now lives in the greater Seattle area, where she writes and drinks copious amounts of coffee. When she isn't writing, cooking, gardening, or taking photos, you can find her at local shows and concerts, or running to prepare for yet another half marathon.

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