Autumn has officially arrived, and after a summer of cool, light cooking, itís time for some homey, hearty meals. Braised meats, with their rich flavors, tender texture and intense, reduced sauces, are definitely homey, but you may never have tried to make them at home. They sound as if they might be complicated to preparelike something best left to a restaurant chefand what exactly is braising, anyway?
Relax. Braising is easythere are only two steps: The meat is browned first, then covered and simmered in seasoned liquid. According to Cory Schreiber, the chef at Portlandís super-popular Wildwood Restaurant & Bar, braising is a great way to cook lamb shanks. In the recipe here, he does something slightly unusual: He simmers the shanks uncovered in the oven. That way, he says, "the dry heat caramelizes the top of the meatgiving it a bit of a crustwhich adds nice texture and color." The lamb is accompanied by a roasted squash purée and wilted Swiss chard.
With this recipe in hand, you can actually have your next homey meal at home. Add a salad and crusty bread, and youíve got your first dinner party of the season.
Use a pot thatís at least 12 inches across.
4 3/4- to 1-pound lamb shanks
1 1 3/4-pound butternut squash, quartered lengthwise, seeded
1 fresh medium fennel bulb, trimmed, sliced (about 2 cups)
2 bunches red Swiss chard
Preheat oven to 375°F. Sprinkle lamb on all sides with salt and pepper. Heat oil in heavy large pot over high heat. Add lamb; cook until brown, turning occasionally, about 10 minutes. Transfer to plate. Add 1 tablespoon butter to drippings in pot. Add onion, carrots, parsnips, thyme and garlic. Sauté until vegetables soften and begin to brown, about 8 minutes. Add wine; boil until reduced almost to glaze, about 4 minutes. Return lamb to pot, arranging in single layer. Add stock, orange, cinnamon and 1 teaspoon fennel seeds; bring to boil. Place pot in oven. Braise lamb uncovered until tender, turning and basting often, about 2 hours 15 minutes.
Meanwhile, rub cut sides of squash with 1 tablespoon butter; sprinkle with salt and pepper. Arrange squash, skin side down, on baking sheet. Roast on sheet alongside lamb until tender, about 1 hour 15 minutes. Scrape squash from skins into bowl; add nutmeg and 2 tablespoons butter. Mash with fork until almost smooth; season with salt and pepper. Transfer lamb to plate. Strain braising liquid into bowl; spoon off fat, if desired. Return liquid to pot. Add fresh fennel, orange peel and 1 teaspoon fennel seeds. Simmer until fennel is tender and sauce is thick enough to coat spoon, about 15 minutes. Return lamb to sauce.
Rewarm lamb shanks, covered, over medium-low heat, about 15 minutes. Rewarm squash in saucepan over low heat, stirring often, about 10 minutes.
Chard and final preparation: While lamb and squash heat, cut out center stem from chard leaves; discard stems. Coarsely tear leaves. Melt butter in heavy large skillet over high heat. Add chard and toss until chard wilts, about 4 minutes. Season with salt and pepper.
Divide squash and chard among 4 plates. Arrange lamb atop vegetables; spoon sauce with fennel over.
mickey nir ( email@example.com ) from tel aviv on 02/05/01
i keep making it over &over again. i some times make with turkey legs, and its very good too.
April Morris ( firstname.lastname@example.org ) from Anaheim, CA on 02/04/01
A Cook from Carlisle, MA on 01/14/01
Jamilyn ( email@example.com ) from Raleigh, NC on 01/11/01
Lynn ( firstname.lastname@example.org ) from Sonoma, CA on 01/03/01