Braised lamb shanks are a favorite comfort food of mine. A well cooked shank is tender and succulent, never tough or dry. Normally when braising I reach for my dried mushrooms and a bottle of red wine, this time I thought I'd try something different.
I had one kinda sad looking eggplant in my fridge, and some fenugreek in my spice cabinet. Eggplant as not something I really wanted to braise, so I gave them a good coating of salt and let them drain, hoping to remove some of the bitterness that's present in eggplants.
Braising a lamb shank is like braising anything else. Give it a good sear followed by some solid cooking liquid and you're guaranteed favorable results.
I seared the shanks, then added some diced onion and cloves of garlic to the pan. Always remember to scrape up the leftover bits of meat after searing. That's the good stuff.
The braising liquid I used was stock, seasoned with fenugreek, black pepper, cinnamon and cayenne. The liquid goes over the shanks and onion/garlic mix, then in the oven at 325 degrees for an hour or two.
After 2 hours in the oven.
When the shanks are fork tender I removed them, then strained and reduced the cooking liquid. By this time the eggplant were looking wilted and wet from the salt - I dried them with paper towel and seared in them in olive oil until golden.
When the cooking liquid looked thick enough the shanks went back in to warm up. Then it was dinner. Lamb shanks on top of rice with toasted almonds. My sauteed eggplant ended up being more of a garnish on top - but were nice and crisp with a little sweetness.
Bones worth sucking on.
My favorite part of lamb shanks is once you've finished the meat, the bones still have little gelatinous bits of tendon clinging to them. Knives and forks don't really work, so you just need to pick it up and knaw on it. Lamb shanks always make me feel like a seriously classy caveman.
My recent post about eating shrimp tails
seemed to get some good response, so I thought I'd do about post about eating whole shrimp. Once again, for breakfast. Congee is a rice porridge, flavoured with fish sauce and soy sauce, and whatever else you have on hand. It's a terrific breakfast dish for those of us who want the comfort of porridge, but don't really dig sweet in the morning.
The last time I made congee
I did not have any dried shrimp. This time, thanks to my dear friend Jo
at Create A Cook
, I have some lovely whole dried shrimp in Korean chili oil that are going to be perfect for my little pot of congee. When I say whole I mean shells, eyes, little flipper things - the entire creature. These shrimp are a tad larger than the dried shrimp I've used in the past, so I'm excited to see what kind of texture they are going to add to my dish.
My new ingredient.
The basic recipe
I use is by David Lebovitz
- it's a terrific recipe that you can really make your own. In my opinion congee (or Jook as it's sometimes called) does not keep very well. For one person I use a quarter cup of rice and a half cup of water. Although, I add a fair bit of water during the cooking process to give it the right porridgy consistency.
I add my minced ginger and garlic as soon as the rice/water mixture starts to simmer. The other ingredients are based on what I have on hand, and added when the rice has begun to get soft. Some diced carrot, frozen peas, a pinch of salt and once the rice is tender I add a little dash of fish sauce and soy sauce as well as my dried shrimp.
Shrimp, ginger, peas and carrot.
The chili oil that the shrimp were packaged in gave my congee a little heat which added a surprising element to the congee. I don't normally add any chili's but after this experience they are going to become a regular player.
The whole shrimp added body (literally) and texture to the congee. And although they were larger than the dried shrimp I had used previously they still managed to add to the dish without taking away from any of the other flavours or textures.
I think this is possibly the best congee I've ever made. The flavours are all working together, nothing it too overpowering and it's warm and soothing on the tongue.
I'm ready to face my day, even if I'm wishing I'd made enough for a second bowl.
Due to my Canadian childhood I had little to no experience with Mexican food until I moved to the US. And when I did move I went a little burrito crazy - as in all things wrapped in a large tortilla were good. There was no filter. None.
Having lived in America for the past three years I've gotten a little better with Mexican food in general - but I'm still trying to tune my burrito filter. They all still taste pretty flippin' good to me.
My favorite burrito served at the Mexican place
down the street from my house is the beef tongue (or lengua). I decided to treat myself earlier today.
My lunch, in all its foil-wrapped glory.
I love this filling. Tongue seems somehow beefier and more substantial than the regular beef. And my little place goes the extra mile and grills the tongue so it gets a crisp almost charred taste and texture. Combined with the soft rice, gooey beans and fresh iceberg lettuce my tongue was very happy to have another tongue as it's companion for lunch.
The first few bites.
Combine this with a little homemade hot sauce thats got the ideal amount of heat (not too much - I'm a bit of a wuss) and I am one happy Canadian.
Tongue is not only a great economy food (there's a lot of food in one tongue) but as I've demonstrated in other posts (salad
and main course
) it's very versatile.
I may not know much about Mexican food, but I know a little about tongue, and I sincerely advise everyone to go try a tongue burrito for lunch soon. Your tongue will welcome the company.
Sadly, I got no pictures.
The non-vegetarian main was galantines of Cornish hen. The hens all came with their little packets of giblets most of which went into the stock pot. I did however save the livers and soak them in port overnight. A quick sear in butter and onto a crostini -the sauce got finished with cream and drizzled over my port soaked liver crostini.
Only three of us ate them, but I have to admit they were really tasty.
One of my New Years Eve companions did get a picture of a gallantine. I stole this off facebook
Galantine of Cornish hen stuffed with cornbread, sausage and leek.
I'm very happy with how I managed to sneak in a little nose to tail into my New Years Eve - I'm really looking forward to another year of these tasty treats!