Raising the Braising to a new level.

 

Image 1

 

As the leaves turn magnificent shades of red, yellow and orange, my mind thinks menu change! The cold New England winters make me long for warm, falling-off-the-bone meals. Actually, winter translates to hot and soothing meals that fill the soul. One recent Sunday I couldn’t stop thinking about lamb shanks. Most ladies dream of diamonds but I was contemplating gamey meats. Luck was with me when I nabbed the last three lamb shanks at my local Whole Foods. It can be difficult finding lamb shanks or short ribs. Most grocery stores don’t have real butchers as the meats come pre-cut and packaged. Whole Foods almost always has what I desire.

So humor me as I describe a fantastic way to cook lamb shanks. It involves one of my favorite condiments, balsamic vinegar. When I braise, I plan on staying home. I find a project, or a good movie that will fill the time. I never leave the house with anything running. Braising gives me a perfect reason to be a shut in stay home for a few hours.

 

¼ cup flour

½ tsp. kosher salt, plus more to taste

¼ tsp. black pepper

1 tsp. ground coriander

1 tsp. ground cumin

1/8 tsp. cinnamon

3 lamb shanks

2 tsp. olive oil

4 cloves garlic, peeled and smashed with flat side of knife

1 large yellow onion, diced

3 carrots, peeled and cut into chunks

4 celery ribs, cut into hunks

1 tsp. dried thyme

½ cup of good balsamic

1 cup of white wine

4 cups of chicken stock, store bought works great

 

  1. Whisk flour, salt, black pepper, cumin, and cinnamon together. Roll the lamb shanks in the flour mixture until they are coated.
  2. Heat a Dutch oven (4 to 6 quarts) over a medium-high heat and sear the lamb shanks on all sides until browned.
  3. Transfer lamb shanks onto a plate and preheat your oven to 325 degrees.
  4. Scrape any crusty bits from the lamb-searing, off the bottom of the Dutch oven. (don’t discard, just loosen them to prevent them from burning)
  5. Place the Dutch oven over medium heat and add the garlic, onion, carrots, celery and thyme. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the onions are soft, about 10 minutes.
  6. Stir in the vinegar and cook until it has evaporated slightly and thickened further, about 10 minutes.
  7. Return the lamb shanks to the pot and pour the white wine and chicken stock over them. If you don’t have wine, water is a fine substitute. Season the broth to taste with salt, cover the pot, and place it in the oven until the meat is very tender and falling off the bones. This will take about 2 ½ to 3 hours of slow cooking.
  8. Remove the shanks from the pot, onto a platter or sheet pan, covering them with foil to keep them warm, and strain the liquid into a saucepan. Discard the solids.
  9. Cook the sauce over medium heat until it has reduced by about half. This should take about 15 minutes.
  • Season the sauce to taste and pour it over the lamb shanks.

I served it with polenta and Parmesan cheese. I like to take the meat off the bone when I serve it. It falls off the bone and your guests won’t even need a knife to cut it. I’ve served it over tagliatelle and butter, which is utterly delicious!

 

I’ve adapted this recipe slightly from Cara Nicoletti’s recipe. I hope you enjoy it! If you prefer, you can cook this the day before you plan on serving it. Braised meats taste even better the next day. Enjoy!

For the love of braising and balsamic, try this!

 

Image

 

Crockpot Brown Sugar Balsamic Glaze Pork Tenderloin

Say that 5 times fast. Really. Let me start with, I do not own a crockpot. I have a silly phobia about leaving things running in my house when I am not there. I prefer to use a Dutch oven to braise my foods. It takes less time, about 3-4 hours, and I use the stovetop and not the oven. This is great for summer meals, as the house doesn’t heat up. Okay, so you have to actually stay at home, but that’s not really a problem for me. If you prefer to use a crockpot, I will post the link for the actual crockpot recipe that I have loving adapted, at the end.

For the love spice, do not skip the sage. If you don’t have ground sage on your spice shelf, run to the grocery store. RUN! This is what heaven smells like. Oh, too dramatic? Okay, it smells fantastic! Whenever I lifted the lid, heads popped up and asked what I was cooking. The original recipe called for 2 pounds of pork tenderloin. I used a 4 pound Swift premium boneless petite pork roast that is marketed for crockpots. Dear marketers, you got me! This was perfect for my hungry family of four, with a few bites left over.

So let’s start cooking!

2 tsp. ground sage

1 tsp. salt

½ tsp. pepper

2 garlic cloves, crushed (or for tender tummies, garlic powder)

1 cup of water

4 pounds of boneless petite pork roast

 

Glaze/sauce:

1 cup brown sugar

2 tbsp. cornstarch

½ cup balsamic vinegar

1 cup water

4 tbsp. soy sauce

 

  1. Mix together the sage, salt, pepper and garlic, and rub over the pork.
  2. Place 1 cup of water in Dutch oven, followed by the pork roast, and cook on your stove top, on a medium low heat for one hour. You want the liquids to simmer, not boil.
  3. While the pork is braising, prepare the glaze/sauce. Mix together the brown sugar, cornstarch, balsamic vinegar, water, and soy sauce in a saucepan.
  4. Heat over medium and stir until mixture thickens, about 4 minutes.
  5. Pour half the glaze over the pork and continue to cook for a half hour. You want to keep the lid on when you braise. The liquids will evaporate and the meat will be tough if you don’t keep the lid on when braising. Pour the rest of the glaze over the pork and cook for another 1.5 hours. I turned the pork over several times to coat it with the glaze. The total cooking time should be about 3-4 hours. When you braise, you want the liquids to slowly simmer. Small bubbles, not big. Once the meat is pull-apart soft, let it rest on a plate, or a cookie sheet. I raised the heat under the Dutch oven and reduced the sauce by about one half.

Once the sauce is reduced to your likening, either cut or pull the pork apart onto a platter. Pour the glaze/sauce over the meat. It’s a wonderful site!

I served this with mashed potatoes and steamed green beans with lemon juice. I hope you enjoy this as much as my family did!

IMG_1521

Here is the original crockpot recipe.