Intermission -- Beer Braised Lamb Shank
Been a week since the last post. No problems, just coincidences of life getting in the way. I picked up a stomach bug for most of the week, which didn't make the idea of cooking very...well...appetizing. Then, Christey and her mom (and our daughter) went up to Cape Cod to visit family, the two older boys are with their Dad, which leaves Julian and me, toughing it out together as the men of the house. The ladies will be back late tomorrow night, but, there goes my photographer. Along with the serious SLR camera, and the point-n-shoot. I'm down to my crappy webcam, which isn't exactly...well...appetizing. But, I made a beer braised lamb shank tonight for myself (Julian is still working on getting teeth).
I trimmed off the major silverskin, fat, and assorted junk, salted and peppered the shank along with a few pinches of flour, and seared every bit in some olive oil. Once browned, I removed the shank and tossed in a sliced shallot, a sliced carrot, a sliced celery stalk, and four whole cloves of garlic. I tossed the veggies in the oil until lightly carmelized, then added about 1/3rd of a bottle of beer, scraping the fond off the bottom of the pan and incorporating it in the beer. Once simmered down, I added 2/3 cup of beef stock, another 1/3rd bottle of beer, a few stripped thyme spears, and 2-3 tablespoons good balsamic vinegar. Once brought up to simmer, I placed the lamb shank in the liquid, then tossed the whole pan in a 300 degree oven.
After 45 minutes, I turned the shank, added more beer and broth, and braised for another 45 minutes. Once out of the oven, I salted the shank and juice a bit more, and it was done.
Plating was the whole shank, with some of the veggies, and some sauce. Simple stuff, no food styling today!
Deconstruction: I'm always surprised by how sweet braising liquid ends up being. There are some ingredients with sugars deeply incorporated -- carrots, shallots, the fat of the lamb, balsamic vinegar -- but after an hour and a half of braising, it tastes like someone added a tablespoon of brown sugar when I wasn't looking. The lamb meat was nice and tender, though I needed to trim more tendons (I have to brush my teeth now). The veggies tasted like the lamb and the sauce. I'm thinking I could have thrown just a touch of roux in the sauce, though, to thicken it slightly. It doesn't need to be gravy, and liquid sauce is tradition, but it tasted so good, a little bit more thickness would have stuck it to everything else a little better, I think.