Lamb Shanks Braised in Guinness with Root Vegetables
4 lamb shanks (about 3 pounds)
salt and pepper
3 to 4 tablespoons olive oil
2 large yellow onions, diced
1 carrot, peeled and diced
6 to 8 garlic cloves, smashed or sliced
6 sprigs thyme
1 12-ounce bottle Guinness stout
2 pounds root vegetables (carrots, parsnips and/or turnips/rutabagas, peeled and cut into 1-inch chunks
Season the lamb shanks generously with salt and pepper. Dredge the shanks in flour and shake off the excess. In a wide, deep saute pan or braiser, heat some olive oil over medium-high heat. Add the lamb shanks and brown on all sides. This will take 20 to 30 minutes. Regulate the temperature as necessary to maintain an active sizzle -- it shouldn't spatter and smoke.
When the lamb is golden brown on all sides, remove to a platter and add the onions to the pan -- add more oil if necessary. Sweat the onions until translucent and beginning to caramelize -- about 10 minutes. Add the carrot and garlic and sweat another 5 minutes. Return the shanks to the pan along with any accumulated juices. Add the thyme and the Guinness stout. Bring to a simmer and reduce the liquid by half. Add hot water or stock until the liquid in the pan comes half way up the sides of the shanks. Return to a simmer, cover and transfer to a 300-degree oven.
After an hour, turn the shanks over. Begin testing for doneness after 1 1/2 hours. A skewer or paring knife inserted into the meat should encounter no resistance and the meat should be nearly falling from the bone. The shanks will take 1 1/2 to 2 hours to cook. When tender, transfer the shanks to a container large enough to hold them, along with the braising liquid; strain the liquid over the shanks. Cool and refrigerate overnight.
About an hour before serving, lift the shanks out of the liquid and set aside. Lift off and discard any congealable fat from the surface of the braising liquid. In a wide saucepan, bring the braising liquid to a simmer, taste and season with salt and pepper. Add the prepared vegetables. Cover and simmer until the vegetables are very tender -- about 40 minutes to an hour. If a thicker sauce is desired, remove the lid during the last 20 minutes or so of cooking.
While the vegetables are cooking, remove the meat from the shanks; discard the bones and place the meat in a medium, straight-sided saute pan. When the vegetables are almost tender, ladle some of the braising liquid from the vegetables over the meat (just enough to moisten). Cover the pan and gently warm until the shank meat is hot through.
Serves 4 to 6.
Notes: If desired, the meat may be served intact on the bone (one shank per person). Simply reheat the shanks, with some of the liquid, in a 350-degree oven until hot -- about 20 minutes. This will create a more dramatic presentation.
The use of Guinness results in a slightly bitter sauce. The sauce can be sweetened with the addition of half a cup of pitted prunes to the vegetables during the last 20 minutes or so of cooking; or, by adding the prunes to the braising liquid (along with the stout). By using the latter approach, the prunes will be strained out and will not appear in the final dish.
Source: Paige Vandegrift, private chef, Kansas City, Mo.
Golden Raisin Irish Soda Bread
2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour, plus additional for sprinkling
1/4 cup toasted wheat germ
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 ounces cold unsalted butter, cut into bits
1 cup golden raisins
1 cup buttermilk or plain yogurt
Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
In a large bowl whisk together flour, wheat germ, baking soda and salt. Add butter and toss to coat with flour. With fingertips, rub in the butter until the mixture resembles coarse meal. Add raisins and toss until coated. Add buttermilk or yogurt and stir until dough is moistened evenly.
On a floured surface knead dough 1 minute, sprinkling lightly with additional flour to prevent sticking (dough should remain soft). Shape the dough into a ball.
On a baking sheet lightly sprinkled with flour, pat the ball of dough out into a 6-inch round. Sprinkle the dough with additional flour, and with fingertips, spread lightly over the round. With sharp knife, cut a shallow (about 1 1/2-inch-deep) cross in the top of the loaf.
Bake the bread in the middle of a 400-degree oven until golden brown -- from 35 to 45 minutes. Wrap the finished loaf in a kitchen towel and cool on a rack for 1 hour. Unwrap bread and cool 1 hour more before slicing.
Source: Gourmet Magazine, March 1994; submitted by Paige Vandegrift, Kansas City, Mo.
3 pounds Russet potatoes, peeled and cut into uniform chunks (about 2-inch pieces)
11 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 head Savoy, Napa or green cabbage, thinly sliced
1 bunch green onions (white part only), minced
1 cup whole milk
salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste
Place potatoes in a saucepan; cover with cold water (by about 1 inch) and salt the water generously -- about 1 teaspoon per quart. Place over high heat and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to a simmer and continue to cook until the potatoes are fork tender, but not falling apart.
While potatoes are cooking, melt 2 tablespoons of butter in a cup of water in a wide saucepan. Add cabbage and green onions and boil until the water has evaporated and the cabbage is tender -- about 15 minutes.
Drain the potatoes thoroughly -- do not let them get cold. While the potatoes are draining, place the milk in a small saucepan and heat just to the boil. Return the potatoes to the pot and mash with a potato masher. Stir in 6 or 7 tablespoons of butter along with the hot milk. Stir in hot cabbage. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Mound potatoes in a serving bowl. Make a small well in the center and place the remaining 1 to 2 tablespoons of butter in the well. If desired, garnish with some sliced green onion tops. Serve immediately.
Note: The potatoes can be prepared through the addition of the milk and butter an hour or 2 ahead -- keep them hot in a bowl covered with plastic wrap placed over a pan of steaming water. Cook and add the cabbage just before serving.
Source: Paige Vandegrift, Kansas City, Mo.
Lemon Curd Tart
Sweet Tart Dough:
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter
3/4 cup sugar
2 egg yolks
2 teaspoons vanilla
2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
2/3 cup cake flour
1 cup sugar
zest of 3 lemons
2/3 cup strained lemon juice (about 4 lemons)
4 ounces (1 stick) unsalted butter, cut into pieces
Build and bake the Tart:
1 egg white, beaten until frothy
additional sugar (about 1 tablespoon) for sprinkling
fresh raspberries or blueberries
To make dough: Briefly cream the butter and sugar. Beat in the egg yolks and the vanilla. Add the flours and mix until well combined. Divide the dough in half and form into 2 thick disks. Chill, wrapped in plastic, until ready to use.
To make curd: Combine the sugar, lemon zest and lemon juice in a medium saucepan and bring to a boil over high heat. In a medium-sized bowl, whisk the eggs until homogenous. When the lemon syrup boils, whisk it into the eggs in a thin stream. Return this mixture to the saucepan and place over medium heat. Stir constantly until the mixture is visibly thickened -- this will only take about 3 minutes.
Remove from the heat and whisk in the butter, piece by piece. When the butter is fully incorporated, turn the curd into a bowl and press a piece of plastic wrap to the surface. Chill overnight.
To build and bake tart: Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
Between 2 sheets of plastic wrap, roll one disk of dough into a 12-inch round about 1/8-inch thick. Peel off the top sheet of plastic and invert the round of dough into a buttered 9- to 9 1/2-inch removable-bottom tart pan. Ease the dough into the pan, being careful not to stretch it, and pressing it against the sides of the tart pan. Use your hands or the rolling pin to gently cut the dough flush with the upper rim of the tart pan. Spoon the cold lemon curd into the tart shell. Roll out the second round of dough. Place it on top of the filling. Press the edges together to seal.
Place the tart onto a cookie sheet and bake in a 375-degree oven until the top and sides are golden brown -- about 35 minutes.
Remove to a rack and let stand for 5 minutes. Brush the top of the tart with the beaten egg white; sprinkle with the sugar. Bake 10 minutes more. Cool the tart on a wire rack. When completely cool, slice and serve with whipped cream and fresh berries.
Source: Paige Vandegrift, Kansas City, Mo.