Monday, March 19, 2007

Shank you very much!

Sorry, I couldn’t help it. Last night’s dinner has brought about a bad case of gastric punsters reflux.

We continued our St. Patrick’s Day weekend with an impromptu 100 Mile Diet potluck featuring another lamb dish last night, Moroccan Lamb Shanks. Actually, I didn't even ask our dinner guests to make their contributions 100 mile diet specific, they just knew me well enough and there's certainly plenty of local culinary goodies to bring for a potluck. So lucky to have such kindred dinner companions! (Thanks M,P&R for wonderful evening!)

One of our guests brought over a great selection of locally made artisan cheese from both Natural Pastures cheeses and Little Qualicum cheeses, a few locally grown apples and a pears for cheese & fruit plate. Our other guests contributed a couple bottles of Zanatta’s Ortega wine, a luscious full-bodied white wine that went very well with the spicy Moroccan dinner.

Instead of Guinness we opted for some Phillip’s Black Toque IPA, brewed down in Esquimalt. Before you start throwing Leprechaun scat at me, all my Irish friends and anyone who’s visited Ireland insists that Guinness that is sold here is nothing compared to the Guinness that comes out the taps in the pubs in Ireland. I will make sure I will have a pint or 10 of Guinness when I visit the Emerald Isle. Until then, there is no lack in tasty dark beers from our local microbreweries. Phillip’s Black Toque IPA is the older, more intriguing brother of their light IPA. It has a deep malty flavor with hints of licorice, at least according to my taste buds. Anyways, it was a great beer to sip away as we chatted our way into the wee hours of the night.

Here’s my Fast & Dirty recipe for Moroccan Lamb Shanks. The prep only takes about 15 minutes to do. It’s a slow cooking dish and definitely has me thinking again about getting a slow cooker. While it cooked away, I also roasted a local organic squash. Nothing more than cut it open lengthwise, gutting out the seeds and placing the halves cut side down into a roasting pan. I then added a scant inch of hot water into the pan and let it roast beside the lamb shanks. It took about an hour to roast. It should be soft and scoopable.

Moroccan Lamb Shanks

1 large lamb shank or 2-3 smaller ones

2-3 yellow onions – cut into 1/8ths

4 cloves of garlic- chopped coarsely

3 cups of diced vegetables – I used local carrots, parsnips, russet potatoes

handful of morrocan salt-cured olives – pitted and chopped coarsely

1 litre chicken stock

olive oil

2 tablespoon coriander seeds – toasted and ground up

1 teaspoon cumin

2 teaspoons curry powder

cilantro or parsley chopped – for garnish

1-Preheat oven at 300F.

2-In a oven-proof pot (dutch oven or similar style pot), heat up a couple glugs of olive oil over medium-high heat. Once hot enough, sear all sides of the shanks. Simply place them in the hot pot, let the heat do it’s magic. For crying out, don’t mess around with every 10 seconds. Just let it sit on the hot surface for 4-5 minutes and turn. Repeat until all sides are golden brown.

3- Remove shank from pot and throw in onions and garlic. Add more oil if needed. Bring heat down to medium and sauté until onions are translucent. Throw in the rest of the vegetables, except for potatoes, and let them cook for a few minutes.

4-Dump in spices and let them coat the vegetables. Add the shanks back in. Add in the olives and the stock and water. Don’t worry if it doesn’t totally cover the meat.

5-Cover pot with foil or lid. Throw it into the oven and forget about it for about 1hour or so.

6-An hour later, throw in the potatoes. Turn the meat over. Again cover it, throw it back into the over for another hour or so.

Garnish with cilantro or parsley

The meat should fall easily off the bone. The key is to cook it slow and at low heat. I literally torn the meat off the bone with my hands with little effort. Again, there really isn't much work involved, just sit back and bask in the inticing aromas. Such a wonderful and savory way to end the weekend!

Happy Eating,


Nanaimo’s 100 Mile Diet Challenge

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