Sunday, March 14, 2010

Lamb Ragu II

My love for lamb is conditional. Lamb chops and racks of lamb can do no wrong. I like them bloody rare and with a little herb enhancement. Mint jelly? Heck no. An insult to lamb enthusiasts.

And then came the shanks.
What is it about the shanks? They look unassuming enough; they brown up nicely. But do they ever not smell putrid? I mean, they were malodorous here on the wrapper, they were malodorous after being browned, and the final product was also malodorous. I don't think I like the flavor very much either. It's gamey; it's lamby; it's not very good unless properly adulterated.

Josh and I decided that a sauce for shanks really needs acidity. The first ragu I made had tomatoes, and this one doesn't. I mean, this second ragu wasn't horrible. It was good; it wasn't great. And I guess I expect greatness from lamb, for some reason. Perhaps because they die so young.

This particular recipe calls for four lamb shanks. I mentioned in my oysters entry that I got the shanks at Uwajimaya. I had to return for them because the butcher only had three. After my oyster purchase, I sauntered back and a different butcher looked up from his cutting and said, "Lamb shanks?" I guess I look like a lamb-eater. Better than an onion-eater, I suppose.

The recipe says that it is lamb with "roasted tomatoes and toasted orzo." I opted for neither, although, as mentioned above, I should have probably gone for the tomatoes. I made rice, which went well. I thought about the tomatoes, but they are not in season. You simply must eat tomatoes in season, preferably from a garden you know intimately. They tend to suck otherwise.
I think I need a bigger pot. I was afraid it was going to overflow.

You brown the meat and then the aromatics, then throw in the liquids and roast for two hours. Browning takes a while, makes a mess, and can set off the smoke detecors. I was doing all this while Sam was napping, and although I have set off the detectors and their loud screeching before and Sam didn't wake up (!), I didn't want to risk that. So, on that freezing (literally) day, I had the sliding glass door and a window open, and the fan going. Knowing the fans in this house, the thing probably vents into the crawl space. I bet I have the best smelling insulation ever. So, kudos to me, no smoke alarms this time.

I didn't set the house on fire, but I did manage to splash port all over my white cords! How? I was wearing an apron! I guess I was too enthusiastic as I grabbed the measuing cup.
I made the ragu on Thursday, but went out with my Culture Club (no affiliation with Boy George), so had to postpone the actual eating until Friday. This was good because the sauce gelled and I was able to remove this substantial fat layer. It looks like white and milk chocolate mousse, I think. There is a heck of a lot of connective tissue in those shanks, thus lots o' fat and the sauce underneath is like jello.
I was thinking of making lamb shoulder for Easter, but maybe I should go with pork. Everyone loves pork. Pork just screams "Christianity" anyway, so it's appropriate for Easter. Hm.

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