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Monday, March 19, 2012

The Lonely Lamb Shank

I've been intrigued by lamb shanks for quite a while. Tried one once in a Lebanese restaurant and thought it greasy. But restaurants charge a high price for them, and I have friends who love them. So I decided to experiment--bought one shank. Looked at a lot of recipes, some of them very complicated, and settled on a crock pot version with wine and beef broth. It called for onions and carrots, which I added,but no herbs--I snuck in some thyme and rosemary. Put it all together in my crock pot. It sure looked strange, like a rock outcropping protruding from a shallow sea--perhaps if I'd had the recommended four shanks, the liquid would have covered them, but not my lonely shank. I cooked it much of the day Saturday and couldn't tell that it was getting any more tender, though it smelled delicious. Finally about suppertime, I cut the meat off the bone, chunked it and submerged it in the liquid. Now I had sort of a lamb stew in a red-wine sauce. Let it cook quite a bit more and refrigerated. Yesterday I skimmed the fat off the top, but I didn't fix it for dinner--lazy, just didn't feel like it.
Tonight I told myself it was time to eat that lamb shank, so I mashed a couple medium red potatoes, heated up a bit of leftover broccoli--got to have those greens--and tried to boil the wine sauce down so that it would thicken. After a bit I figured if I boiled it long enough to thicken I would hardly have any left for my dinner. So I chunked up a reasonable portion of the meat, poured drippings over meat and potatoes, and added the broccoli. Really good, though I got one piece of fat I thought I'd trimmed off. I liked the flavor, but it's a heavier dinner than I usually eat. And I have enough lamb left over for at least three meals. Wondering if, cold, it would make good sandwiches--I love a cold lamb sandwich with mayonnaise, but the lamb has always been from a roasted leg. I'm afraid, ultimately, my lamb-shank adventure will be a failure--unless Christian wants it for lunch one day. I hereby give him permission to fish out the cooked carrots, which he despises and I love.
In a way the lamb is part of my damned if you do and damned if you don't dilemma these days. Just when there's a new study that warns even more seriously about the negative health effects of eating too much red meat, my doctor tells me, "Try to eat more red meat. You're a bit anemic." My stomach simply won't handle iron pills, so I've been trying to eat red meat but chicken and fish, especially tuna, are always my first choices. I do like meatloaf and seared ground sirloin patties--maybe I should stick to those and not try to be fancy.

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