Braised Lamb Shanks with Soft Polenta

22Feb08

Braised Lamb Shank with Polenta
When someone says, “I’ll pay, you cook,” I say, “when?”


My “boys” decided to give me the pleasure of slaving away in the kitchen for them for my farewell get together. For a passionate cook, to be given opportunity to cook whatever you heart desires is quite a dream. A dream not even chefs get to realize in their own professional kitchens, what with the ridiculous demands on patrons these days. While the options were endless, the palettes of my company were not so.

“So what elaborate meal would you guys like to eat?”

“Meat.”

“Ok… anything else?”

“Nope. Oh. Chocolate.”

“Sounds good. Will we be needing utensils or shall we just use the sticks lying in the cave?”

Granted, I could have done wonders with the said ingredients, I felt rather limited in my choices. The main concern was to feel satisfied not through the taste buds, but rather through the grumbling inner workings of a grown man’s stomach. (They’re not kidding when they say a way to a man’s heart is through his stomach. Eat first. Sex later.) And not just one continually expanding stomach, FIVE! Five hungry stomachs to fill! Creating a three course meal for six people starting at 4 pm, my options were very nil. I was stuck.

Are you ever confronted with a challenge that requires the SIMPLEST answer and NO excessive effort, yet you make it so UTTERLY complicated and complex in your warped mind that your answer is the WORST possible solution, resulting in something that is quite possibly the complete opposite of what you were hoping for?

Hi-that’s me when it comes to any menu. Can I have the Tour of Italy Sampler with an extra flag of Italy on my meatball please? WhAt?!

I couldn’t just settle on an easy 30 minute main followed by Betty Crocker Cake (more on that later). No-I had to make an impression. So while my mind wandered into the depths of epicurious.com, I was losing both precious cooking time and the patience of my hungry friends.

It all started when Fabian wanted “to eat those racks of lamb that come with the little white hats on top.” You mean this??

Crown Lamb with Booties

No, I will not serve that. But lamb-ok. Why I chose to BRAISE lamb shanks in a time crunch? I have no idea. I totally relate to those Top Chef contestants. When you have an idea, it really IS hard to let go. Sigh.

The predominent response to the Braised Lamb Shanks wasn’t overwhelmingly positive. It’s not to say the recipe was bad at all. It actually was REALLY good. It’s just that lamb is the kind of meat that you kind of have to be “in the mood” for. Lamb isn’t quite Mr. Popularity when it comes to choices of meat. If it were in a high school yearbook, it would most likely win “Most Unique.” Gamey, kinda chewy at times. But I’d hang out with it. Some people like it, some people think it’s wierd and needs to start playing football with the cows already. There is a time and place for lamb. And it isn’t after 4-5 hours waiting with hunger pains.

I had about roughly 4 hours to turn 10 cups of this:Lamb Shanks in Braising broth

into 1 cup of sauce. Let’s just say I cranked up that burner to high a.SAP.

After staring into a pot of steam for what felt like for.ever., I was pleasantly surprised with 6 beautiful lamb shanks, perfectly braised, and ready for presentation. The meat fell off the bone effortlessly, like a whore’s dress on a warm, sunny day. I didn’t think it could look any better than when we first met in the butcher shop. But smothered in orange zest, rosemary bits, and mushrooms, it looked as sexy as ever. Lying on a bed of soft polenta, it was ready for the attack. Did I tell you I’m also looking into a career in food porn.

Braised Lamb Shanks Profile
Accompanying the main, was a simple salad of Wilted Spinach with Warm Feta Dressing. Really easy. SUPER delicious.

Wilted Spinach with Warm Feta Dressing
Let’s not forget the starters. I followed the lead of Suzanne Goines of A.O.C. and served Parmesan-Stuffed Dates Wrapped in Bacon. These bite size morsels were the perfect combination of sweet and salty and YUM. YUM. YUM.

Parmesan Stuffed Dates Wrapped in Bacon

Dessert was courtesy of Betty Crocker herself. I would have eaten the whole pan of brownies if i hadn’t decided I would like to walk, not waddle, to work the next day.

I learned a lot from this experience. I learned you can wrap anything in bacon, and it’s instantly amazing. I learned when a recipe says it should take 3-4 hours, expect 5-6. And I also learned no matter how hard you work on your meal, Betty Crocker is always better than you.

table

Hugs & Tacos,

Foodyi

***Pictures are courtesy of Mark Byun. You’ll never see pictures this good on this website again. But you can see them here http://byun583.blogspot.com

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One Response to “Braised Lamb Shanks with Soft Polenta”

  1. 1 peter

    Amy,

    The food was good, I think there was more a lack of response than non-positive response, but I think you should consider the plates with just lamb bones, drippings, and bits of polenta at the end of the meal as assurance that your efforts were appreciated.

    Also.. I like how there’s a rack of shoes in the background of the last picture… classy.


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