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Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Lamb Shanks with Bacon & Mushrooms

I have got to admit that I am not a huge Lamb fan.  I will eat it, but it really isn't my first preference of meats to use.  When planning this weeks menu I asked for suggestions for meals - Lamb Shanks was an immediate response.  Really I asked, are you sure, what about.... and other suggestions were offered, but no, Lamb Shanks it was to be!  When I showed the photo on the front of this month's Good Taste Magazine the deal was sealed.  Yes, this is what was wanted!!!  Ooookay, I said Lamb Shanks it is then.

As usual though I have "tweaked" the recipe a little.  It actually said to cook on the stove top for 1 1/5 hours - but I wasn't able to get "frenched" shanks and hence I didn't have a pot to go on the top of the stove that was big enough - so I baked them in the oven for 3 hours.

Lamb Shanks with Bacon and Mushrooms

Serve 6

18 small French Shallots (see picture)
6 Lamb Shanks, french trimmed
300g button mushrooms, thickly sliced
250g bacon, rind removed, coarsely chopped
2 celery sticks, trimmed, thinly sliced
4 cloves crushed garlic
500ml (2 cups) beef stock
400g crushed tomatoes
3 fresh rosemary sprigs
120g baby spinach

Preheat oven to 150 degrees C (fan forced).

Use a sharp knife to make a small cut in the base of each shallot.  Put them all in a heatproof bowl and cover them with boiling water for 5 minutes.  Drain and then peel them, leaving the bases intact.  You do this by starting at the top and just cutting the top off, then pulling the skin down to the base.  I then left them whole.

Heat a large non stick frypan over medium high heat.  Cook the shanks 2-3 at a time, turning to ensure that all sides are brown (even the ends).  Repeat until all the shanks are browned.  Place into the base of the baking dish once they are browned.

Reheat the frypan, add the shallots, mushrooms, bacon, celery and garlic.  Cook stirring for 5 minutes, or until the celery has softened.  Add the stock, tomato and rosemary.  Bring to the boil.  Pour over the shanks in the baking dish.  Cover the dish tightly with several layers of foil.

Bake in the oven for 3 hours.

I served this dish with cheese topped mashed potato.  At the 2 1/2 hour mark I placed the mashed potatoes in a casserole dish and topped them with grated cheese.  This was then placed in the oven for 25-30 minutes, or until the cheese was golden on top.  At this time remove the shanks from the baking tray and put them on a plate, covered with foil, and return them to the oven.

Put the cooking sauce from the shanks into a large saucepan, and put on medium high heat.  You want to reduce the cooking liquid - so let it boil away for the next 20 minutes or so.  To thicken the liquid dissolve 2 teaspoons of cornflour in a little water and stir through the sauce until thickened.  Add the baby spinach, and stir through until the spinach has just wilted.

Serve with the cheesy mashed potato.

You know what - I actually enjoyed it.  "The Darlings" thought they looked like big chicken drumsticks!!  Of course they didn't eat the sauce - there were vegetables in there!!  Funny story - they play rugby and are on an "incentive" plan in regards to tackling - I am wondering if the same "incentive" plan can be used to "tackle a vegetable a week"??

So Dear Readers, is there something that you would not usually eat, but would consider it if there was some monetary gain to be had?

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