Friday, December 04, 2009

28 days to 2010: Foody Friday Lamb Shanks!

This week's edition of Foody Friday started a few weeks ago, actually, when I moaned on Facebook that all of a sudden I was craving the lamb shank at Secret Recipe, and wondered if I should attempt to experiment with that, especially considering I'd never ever noticed lamb shanks being sold in the supermarkets before. To my surprise I had quite a few responses from a wide spectrum of pals who essentially said "mmMmmMmmmm lamb!" and "Yes! Experiment and blog about it!"

So on Monday, I happened to pass the correct place in the dead animal section of Wal-Mart and hey whaddayaknow they had lamb shanks for sale! Each individually wrapped, going for about $7 a pop. Yes, you read that right: SEVEN bucks! That's like TWENTY-TWO RINGGIT! Each. Can you say "Ouch!"?

Lamb shanks - before the "fun" begins

Dahlah mahal... then you realise maybe a quarter of the weight is all bone, and another eighth all fat. See all that white on the "back" of the piece on the left? That's all fat, baby!! Bleeaahhh!! I think I hacked away at two pieces for almost twenty minutes just trying to trim as much fat as I could because we don't have a proper meat-cutting utensil.
[NOTE TO SELF: before attempting to process the other two pieces, GET A PROPER KNIFE!!]

Moving on....

The experiment would be based on this Crockpot Lamb Shanks Recipe from I (thought I) studied the ingredients carefully, taking note of what I lacked, and what I could substitute. Of course, once I got back from yoga & final shopping on Wednesday, I realised I'd overlooked a whole bunch of things. Typical. But I had to rush and process everything, because it would take 8 hours of slow cooking, and it was already 11:15am! That would make dinner a really late one!!

So, as mentioned above, I hacked at the fat, taking way too much time. Then I started subverting the recipe to become entirely my own: no Worcestershire Sauce, so I used Fish Sauce along with salt and pepper to rub the lamb before the next step: braising. I don't know how much time was spent braising the pieces one-by-one. Not that I could tell you the different between braising and just trying to brown all surfaces of the meat and for the blood to not run red. It was a challenge trying to get the meat on the bone to get browned/braised/whatever.

During that time I also struggled with the crockpot liner bag thingy I also wanted to try, since the model we have is the type where the post isn't detachable/removable, so cleaning it later is always a pain. I ended up wasting one bag because for the life of me I didn't see that one side was open (I did the scrunching at every side, nothing gave! grrr!!).

I then scooped about half a bottle of Vidalia Onion Relish (found at County Market) to spread on the bottom of the crockpot.

Finally decided the braising was good enough. Put the lamb in the crockpot, and wondered if the lid would close: looked like it would but only barely.

Not wanting to think about the implications of the other possibility, I went ahead with the other ingredients: two heaping spoonfuls of minced garlic, and a liquid comprising cooking red wine, chicken stock powder, a can of diced tomatoes, and a heaping teaspoon of cumin, allspice, parsley flakes, and Italian seasoning.

Then I tried to close the pot. ... ... nope! Not gonna happen!!

This is so wrong!!! The bones should be IN the pot!!!!

So I was forced to hack the meat off of the bones and dump 'em into the pot; looked like I was going to end up with a stew? I didn't bother to make nice bite-sized pieces -- remember that the clock was ticking big-time! I was really pissed, though... part of why I-who-am-not-a-fan-of-red-meat can salivate over lamb shank is because it falls off the bone and melts in your mouth. I could only hope that without the bone, the meat would still end up with melt-in-your-mouth properties.

So at a little after 12:30n, the crockpot was started, on Low, for 8 hours.

I was all ready to tell Kosh we'd have the lamb the following day because I wouldn't make sense to have dinner so late... ... ... but of course as luck/fate/theUniverse would have it, Wednesday was a day from Hell for Kosh, so much so that he was done at ~8:30pm!

What timing!

And by that time, the house was filled with the aroma of lamb... yummmmm...!!

So we scooped ourselves a bowl of the stuff...
The final product

Verdict? Awesome!

Sure, there was more liquid than necessary (I forgot to halve the ingredients -- did you notice the recipe called for four lamb shanks but I was only using two?) but that didn't detract from the dense taste of the melt-in-your-mouth lamb. Yay!!

But the crockpot liner bag leaked... might have been from when I was trying to force the lid shut on the bones, or, more likely since it wasn't burnt, from when we were scraping at the bottom trying to scoop up all the pieces of meat.

We finished it all, btw. I have perhaps a cup and a half of sauce/stock which I saved: I could use it to add flavour to fake beef soy crumbles, maybe? And there are two other lamb shanks in the freezer: they'll stay there for another month or so before I start digging around for another (non-crockpot?) recipe to try :)

... and so, how about you? Ever experimented with food the way I did with these poor pieces of lamb? Inspired to try? Do drop me a line in the comments, I'd love to hear from ya.

Have a great weekend, everyone!

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  1. What an effort! ..... LOL

    But glad to hear it all ends well and all gobbled up too :-)


  2. Hi Pegz,
    Yup, it was a real effort... but very satisfying in the end, when consuming the flavourful lamb and stew while the weather was cold outside :)

  3. Yummy!!!! Thanx for sharing, Azlin...



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