Monday 17 December 2012

Little Lamby-kins. A Revelation.

Cooked lamb for the first time... ever. Eh? Yeah, I don't like lamb but I realise that lots of people do (especially my wife).

My aversion stems from the cuts I was served as a child. With hindsight, it was probably breast or scrag end. (Scrag end? Who named that cut? Not someone from meat marketing, that's for certain.) I remember childhood lamb as being both stringy and oleaginous - a neat trick - and clumped with flabby yellow fat. I would cut all the fat off, laving tiny postage stamp pieces of meat. My father would invariably reach over to hoof up the trimmings, while complaining that I was too fussy.

Anyway... I braised ten lamb shanks, individually tin foiled, and served them with a reduction of red wine, port and the roasting juices. It was an interesting process making the gravy, having to put aside my own dislike of the flavour and try and be cheffy about it. In the end it comes down to balance and seasoning and depth of flavour so I believe and hope the final product was great. Certainly our guests sent back clean-picked bones.
The shanks were wrapped in foil on a bed of carrot, onion and rosemary with a whack of seasoned and herbed butter shoved in a pocket between the bone and the body of the flesh. Cooked for two and a half hours at 200°C then rested for 30 mins - under foil and a blanket!

The lamb was plated with wilted winter greens, parsnip purée (that I passed through a sieve four times and it still wasn't as smooth as I'd like) and meltingly soft and onion-y Boulanger potatoes. A pleasing winter combo.

The good news is it's just possible that with all the supping and tasting I may have started an inoculation process. By the end of the evening, I could even enjoy the meatiness of the roasting juices. Lamb has a sweetness like no other meat that I maybe beginning to appreciate.

This is a really useful recipe; a bistro classic and one I'll return to again I'm sure. No photos I'm afraid. With a party of ten there's no time for cameras.

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