Tuesday, May 02, 2017

What’s on the menu this week. Braised Lamb shanks in red wine and herbs

This week's recipe is comfort food, good enough for a dinner party or just to sustain you.  The lamb is soft and falling off the bone with a reduced red wine spice and herb sauce. It uses the French spice mix Quatre Epice (yes, they do add spice to food) meaning four spices. (Confusingly, there can be five, the other being cinnamon, but that is mostly used in sweet foods). Mix beforehand for this recipe.  The remainder will keep well in a spice jar till you need it again. Wonderful as a rub on meat or duck, used in pates, terrines and sausages, soups, ragouts or on roasted vegetables. Wonderful for the coming winter's food
T = Tablespoons    t = teaspoons
Quatre Epice
3T White peppercorns  - 1 T grated Nutmeg - 2 t Cloves - 4 t powdered Ginger
Grind the peppercorns with the cloves, grate in the nutmeg, then add the powdered ginger and mix together. Bottle in a spice jar with a tightly fitting lid. Use within 2 months. (You can of course use all powdered spices, but the mixture will not have the pungency or last as long)
Braised Lamb Shanks in red wine
1⁄2 cup flour - 1 teaspoon fresh coarsely ground black pepper - 1 t Herbs de Provence (mixed herbs)
2 tablespoons vegetable oil - 6 lamb shanks (trimmed of fat) - 2 large onions, sliced - 4 garlic cloves, chopped - 2 sticks celery finely chopped - 2 carrots finely chopped or sliced - 3 cups good beef or lamb stock - 1 cup red wine -1 tablespoon Quatre Epice - 4 Allspice berries - 4 bay leaves - salt and pepper
Turn your oven to 180⁰C.  Combine the flour, herbs and pepper in a large ziplock bag.  Put in the lamb shanks and shake the bag well until they are coated
Heat the oil in a large oven proof casserole with a lid. Fry the shanks until golden brown on all sides, using tongs to turn them. Remove from the pan and set aside. Add the onions to the pot and fry them till they are beginning to take on a little colour. Add the Quatre Epice and warm it. Add the garlic, celery and carrots and fry for another minute or two to soften. Pour in the red wine and let it come to a boil and, stirring all the time to deglaze the pan, let it reduce to half. Return the lamb to the pot and add the bay leaves, allspice berries and the stock. Put the lid on the casserole and place in the heated oven for two hours, checking mid way that the liquid has not boiled away. Add water if it needs topping up
Remove the shanks and vegetables to a serving dish and keep warm, removing the bay leaves and allspice berries. Then reduce the sauce until it coats the back of a spoon and has a good glaze. Taste and, if necessary, adjust the seasoning with some salt.  Pour over the shanks and serve. Wonderful with a Rhône blend red wine or a spicy Shiraz. Serve with peas and mashed potato
MENU's Wine of the Week. Graham Beck Blanc de Blancs 2012     We enjoyed this sparkling Chardonnay with lunch at La Colombe. Fresh limes on the nose with a hint of bready brioche. More toasty brioche on the palate with gentle citrus fruit, a hint of apple. Good acid balance and a lively mousse and a long full flavoured finish
It was served with a seared scallop, perfectly cooked, fresh and sweet with flavours of the sea, with some sticky melt in the mouth char sui belly of pork, nice crisp pork crackling, pressed apple disk and a cauliflower, apple and black forest ham velouté, topped with pea shoots. The apple flavour in the Blanc de Blanc made this a very good pairing

Lynne bought John a case of the 2009 (a Platter 5 Star and winner of various other accolades) for his 70th and we still have a little for another special occasion. Expect to pay about R300 per bottle

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