Monday, October 30, 2006

Incredible baked lamb shanks

I've been away for the weekend, hence the apparent gap in my cooking project (other people were cooking for me, which is both nice and odd). I decided to celebrate a return to the kitchen with a lamb recipe to treat Simon, because he loves lamb - and he had been so compliant with the mussel experiment. So: 'incredible baked lamb shanks'. I have cooked with lamb shanks quite a lot, mainly because we became semi-addicted to a recipe from Gordon Ramsay's Kitchen Heaven (the first book where he tried to cater for the common people like me) which involved braising lamb shanks in reduced white wine, stock, the usual vegetables (carrot, celery, onion, leek, garlic), herbs (thyme and rosemary) and star anise, before serving with creamy parsnip puree. I haven't made this recently: it seems designed for a wintry Sunday afternoon's cooking. Jamie's recipe also involves carrot, onion, leek and garlic, plus thyme and rosemary, but is very different. Jamie's lamb shanks are stuffed with a sage, thyme and rosemary butter and baked on a bed of the above-named vegetables, all wrapped into a foil parcel with white wine.

I nearly went wrong with the foil parcel. Jamie says 'tear off four arm-length pieces of tinfoil and fold each in half to give you four A3 sized pieces of foil'. Now, I was using my husband's arm as a vague measure, but even so, once folded, the paper was A4 not A3. I think. (Paper sizes are confusing: I have always found the fact that A3 is bigger than A4 off-putting). Anyway I simply didn't fold the foil I had cut, but cut another piece the same size and managed the double thickness that way; it worked fine.

I also nearly had a query about the amount of butter stuffed into the shanks - 150g for four. Which would mean about 75g for two. Which is a lot of butter. However, this sort of cooking isn't an exact sort of science, like baking; it allows for a bit of experimentation (or so I think). So I just made up the amount of butter that looked sensible for my two shanks but didn't make me fear for our arteries. I'm definitely not a member of the food police (you know, these people who go on and on about salt and fat, amongst other things - and usually live on those horrid artificial cardboard ready meals that promise reduced salt, low fat, no flavour...) and I didn't weigh my butter; I just used what looked right for my shanks.

Mmm. Baking the shanks in foil with white wine means that they sort of braise and bake at the same time; they are both beautifully tender and deliciously sticky round the bone like roasted meat, so you get the best of both worlds. And the flavour of the meat really does, as Jamie promises, come out here. He suggests serving this for a dinner party and I think it would be a fab meal for friends - these rustic parcels would be fantastic at the table, simply served with mash and greens, not least because after you've made up the parcels then you're free to leave them to bake for ages so you don't have that last-minute 'guests-are-here-and-I-need-to-talk-to-them-but-what-if-I-burn-the-dinner' moment. (I have those a lot. I tend to be over-ambitious, not because dishes are difficult but because there is a lot of last-minute fussing, and then I have a drink and talk too much and everyone's got a slightly well done dinner).

I served this with mash and peas (no peas on the photo; Simon took it before we had plated up the peas)

Autumn comfort food. Yum.


Anonymous said...

Wow, what an interesting recipe. I too like the idea of serving people these aluminum parcels. So be honest. Who's the king of lamb shanks? Oliver v. Ramsey. Fess up girl! LOL.


Simon said...

I really like Gordon's lamb shank recipe, but with Jamie's there is considerably less preparation involved. Less work - equally tasty results - gotta be a good thing.

(the resident sous-chef)

Anonymous said...

Haha, you're right, less preparation does sometimes win out. Nice to 'meet' you, resident sous-chef.


Jimms said...

Interesting to see other people cooking Jamie's recipes. I bought the book but i'm a poor student so it's just inspiration at the moment. Keep up the good work.

Riaan, Johannesburd said...

I made this myself a few weeks ago. It's been the easiest and most successful way of cooking lamb shanks, in my experience. Gotta love the Brits (and people say you can't cook...)

Anonymous said...

Hi! just searching around for some help on jamies lamb shank recipe!
Ive made it twice now and both times all the vegetables in the parcel have been burnt to a crisp, tried putting a bit more wine in but they were still burnt. can anyone tell me what Im doing wrong?!

Anonymous said...

your ovens too hot!!