January blogs, Tweets and FB comments that begin with earnest New Year’s Resolutions are as nettlesome and abundant as Time Square selfies taken as the ball drops. Boring.
I was at the gym this morning; here’s a picture of the parking lot––it was an open field of asphalt last month. You read what I’m sayin’. It’s crazy buying exercise equipment in January; if you’re sticking to your guns, check Craig’s List in March.
My family took New Year’s day outside this year, swept away the snow, and Tom (my daughter’s partner) built a fire using hardwood ash. We proceeded to make dinner over the open flame on a Lake Michigan beach.
I’m aware that most folks reading this blog will only be inspired to put on a sweater, but the lamb shanks were braised the day before the old-fashioned way: inside an oven.
We reheated the meaty lamb leftovers over the fire (in a Dutch oven) to smear across the flat bread; enough hot mulled wine and you’ll think you’re in Hawaii.
Those lamb shanks, by the way, turned out to be the gift that kept on giving. The New Year’s Eve meal was superb served with smashed potatoes; we used leftover meat to smear over the flatbreads the following day; and the day after, my son turned the leftover lamb stock, juices and marrow (combined with leftover Hop ‘n John) into the most savory soup that memory recalls.
Braised Lamb Shanks! What a superior winter dish. When entertaining, it’s an awesome make-ahead, as it seems to improve with age.
Lucy’s recipe was based loosely on this Bon Appetit recipe. Deviating from Bon Appetits’, Lucy tripled the amount of garlic, and used “tons” of herbs––parsley, rosemary, thyme, and tarragon–– in the braise, garnishing the final dish with parsley and lemon zest.
Her shanks also took longer to cook than the recipe indicates; we enjoy the meat tender, caramelized and almost falling off of the bone. She reduced the oven temperature to 300 degrees and braised the shanks for four hours.
Lucy switched up Ms. Water’s recipe by substituting rye flour, “…which makes it really crisp”, with whole wheat. As well, she didn’t use the cast-iron skillet technique, but grilled them over the open flame. A delictable little plate for the lamb.
By the way, my sarcasm regarding New Year Resolutions doesn’t have a leg to stand on; I was sweating it out with all the other earnest folks at the gym today in our communal mantra resolving:
2016 will be… “the one”.
May all your wishes for the New Year come true!