And Sometimes The Good Things Aren’t Expensive

We had a very nice dinner last weekend that included only one loud couple. Unfortunately, the alpha female of the pair demanded a particular dish. Luckily, it was a dish I can do justice to, so all was not lost. Braised lamb shanks is simply a variation of any braised meat recipe:

  • Brown meat.
  • Deglaze with mirepoix.
  • Add liquid.
  • Cook for 2-3 hours.
  • Eat.

Not terribly difficult. And yes, I left out some steps, like salt and pepper and whatever herbs you feel like using. If you don’t know that part, you are even less of a chef than I am, and I can’t help you. In this case, I used thyme, rosemary and sage, and I tossed in some garlic and (this is different, at least for me) some cubed Prosciutto into the mirepoix. Okay, I also used port for some of the liquid, because when I was poking around for recipe ideas, I found one with port.

To get back to my original point, I raved a few posts ago about how the good stuff is so expensive, but sometimes that is not the case. Although lamb shanks are not in chicken territory, they are reasonably priced per portion, mostly because the meat is so rich that a typical serving is only one shank. The sauce isn’t dietetic either, so don’t think you will get away with a light meal by avoiding the lamb and sticking to the sauce and potatoes. Oh, the potatoes? I used 3 pounds of potatoes and ½ pound of butter, with some ½&½ for creaminess. See? Plan to gain weight on this meal.

Obviously, when I take into account the time spent on preparation, lobster and aged porterhouse seem like a good idea, but part of the pleasure of having people in our home for dinner is, at least for me, the cooking. And grilling the shanks just won’t cut it. Too much connective tissue and tough stuff that is good only after a wonderful, long, langorous bath in a steamy vessel filled with aromatic braising liquid.

Give it a shot; you won’t be disappointed. Just be sure to make extra; the leftovers are even better than the original. An extra day or two in the sauce and then the reheating does wonders.

7 Replies to “And Sometimes The Good Things Aren’t Expensive”

  1. So I once braised a haunch of moose and let me tell you Joe, it requires quite a large pan. And lots of mirepoix!
    ‘course being February up in, you know where, there was nothin’ around to use as mirepoix. And liquid? Melted snow was what we had. Turned out good that moose.

  2. Hi, Iamnot! I’d like to know specifically what some of those inexpensive cuts are that take so well to braising. Thanks!

  3. Because of the long cooking times, connective tissue has time to break down, so anything with lots of fat and sinew and otherwise nasty stuff is perfect. In no particular order, here is a partial list:

    Chuck roast
    beef shanks (hard to find)
    Beef clod (shoulder)
    lamb shanks
    Leg of lamb
    pork butt
    pork shoulder
    and my personal favorite, beef short ribs

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