A Winter Beach Campfire Supper: Braised Lamb Shanks and Flatbreads

A Wintry Beach Fire Cook-out

It was hard to find a parking space at the gym this morning.

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.


The snow was shoveled away to set up the fire on sand; just like summer!

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.

A mountain of garlic was used in the braise.

A mountain of garlic was used in the braise.

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.


Grilling flat bread over an open flame.

Alice Waters (of Chez Panisse fame) provided inspiration for the  flat bread recipe, for which she is known.

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”.

Ya think?

                                May all your wishes for the New Year come true!

Recipe: Alice Water’s-inspired Grilled Flatbreads


  • 2 cups rye flour
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 3/4 cup warm water
  • 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil (plus more as needed)


  1. In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, salt and baking powder. Stir in the water and olive oil and knead to form a moist dough. Cover with a clean cloth and let rest 30 minutes.
  2. Divide the dough into 16 balls. Roll out on a lightly floured work surface until they are a 6X3-inch oval.
  3.  Carefully lay flatbreads atop a grill over an open fire* and cook 1-3 minutes, depending upon heat of flame, or until lightly charred on the bottom. With a spatula, flip breads and drizzle tops with olive oil. Cook until the bottom side is lightly charred and serve.

Number of servings (yield): 16 flatbreads

* Dried ash wood was used for the fire. Let the wood burn down a bit into coals before cooking and grilling.

Copyright © Peggy Lampman’s dinnerFeed.


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