Well happy New Years to all of you! Cheers to a new year, filled with fun, health, and LOTS of risk-taking recipes.
I'm taking a few weeks/a month off of freelancing, time to decompress after a stressful season of producing reality TV...oh the craziness. Now that I'm off, I'm planning on filling my days with yoga, working out, cooking, and perhaps taking a photography class. Life is so hard.
To start 2014 out right, I took on a BIG recipe...lamb shanks with pears and pistachios....from Bon Appetit. I've been holding onto this recipe since it was printed in 2011, no implications about my recipe "hoarding" behavior, as boyfriend puts it.
Ok...so this recipe is not for the simple minded or faint of heart. This is a two-day recipe. You start it early for a big event...like New Years. You spend your time on it, get it right, because lamb shanks can be pricey. And if you're going to spend 2 days cooking meat, you better not screw up. Plus I'm unemployed...so I had time to kill.
The recipe calls for 8 lamb shanks. I used 2, because there's no way boyfriend and I are going to eat 4 lambs shanks a pieces...although my kitchen assistants probably wouldn't mind.
Here's the DL...
- 8 medium lamb shanks (8–10 lb. total)
- 1/4 cup kosher salt plus more for seasoning
- 1/2 cup olive oil
- 1 cup chopped onion
- 1 cup chopped carrots
- 10 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
- 1 1/2 teaspoons ground cardamom
- 1 3'–4' cinnamon stick
- 5 cups pomegranate juice
- 1 cup natural unsalted pistachios, toasted, divided
- 8 small whole Seckel pears, or 4 large Bosc pears, halved
- 1 teaspoon rose water
- 1/4 cup chopped flat-leaf parsley
- 1/4 cup chopped fresh mint
The next morning, pre-heat your broiler. Broil the lamb shanks for about 15 minutes, turning periodically to brown on all sides. Mine didn't need to braise for QUITE as long, because I was only using 2 shanks.
Reduce oven heat to 350 degrees. Heat the oil in a large roasting pan. Add your chopped onion, carrots, and garlic. Saute for 10 minutes, or until slightly browned. Add ground cardamom and cinnamon stick and season generously with salt. Can i just side track real quick to say that I had to go to 3 grocery stores to find ground cardamom. Don't bother with Trader Joes. I had to find it at Walmart. Ugh. And it is a surprisingly pricey spice.
Anyway, stir in your pomegranate juice (go for the organic stuff) and 3 cups of water. Scrape up all the browned bits on the pan. Add 3/4 cup pistachios and reserved lamb, with the meatier part of the shanks in the liquid with bones facing upward. Cover the pan tightly with a double layer of foil.
Move your roasting pan to the oven. Cook, basting and turning shanks every hour, for 3 hours. The meat should be tender and falling off the bone. I probably could have basted my shanks a little more than I did, so baste generously.
Kitchen assistants wait patiently for lamb to cook.
After 3 hours, in which you clean the kitchen, bathroom, and mop the apartment floor, uncover the pan. Add your halved pairs. Make sure they're submerged in liquid. Let cool completely. Cover and chill overnight. Chop remaining 1/4 cup pistachios; cover and store airtight at room temperature.
The next day, about 45 minutes before you want to serve...
Preheat the oven to 450. There will be a very thick layer of fat surrounding your meat. Scrape it off the surface of the liquid and get rid of it. Heat the lamb mixture over medium heat, occasionally shifting shanks and stirring juices, until warmed through, 10–15 minutes. Remove the shanks, putting them on a large rimmed baking sheet. Spoon 1 cup braising liquid over. Roast, basting occasionally, until glazed, 15–20 minutes.
Meanwhile, add rose water to the roasting pan with the pears and bring to a simmer. Have you ever cooked with rose water? This was my first time. It adds a little hint of...something...to the dish, not sure exactly what. It's more of an aromatic than anything else. Smells like perfume. I bought mine at Williams Sonoma. Cook the sauce until it thickens, 10-12 minutes.
Remove the pears and set aside. Without pressing on the solids, strain the sauce into a bowl. Skim the fat from the surface.
To serve, place a lamb shank in each bowl. Drizzle sauce over lamb. Sprinkle with herbs and reserved pistachios and serve with pears. Don't skip the mint. Mint is so awesome at bringing out the flavor of lamb.
I served this with some rolls and kale with almonds and raisins. I used this recipe, also from Bon Appetit, but used kale instead of swiss chard. And it was delicious. Bon Appetit has never steered me wrong yet.
This was a looooong recipe, but really wasn't too hard. If you've got some time to invest, like this unemployed kiddo in Chicago, and want to impress some people, get at it.
Now keep the champagne flowing, and I'll see you tomorrow with an easy make ahead New Years Day breakfast.
And don't forget to watch the new season of "My Strange Addiction" tonight at 10E/9C on TLC...one of my latest and greatest projects!!!!