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Sunday, February 5, 2012

Braised Lamb Shanks (on Sweet Wild Rice)

As soon as I heard that the forecast this weekend involved snow and ice - I felt that a hearty lazy meal would be best Saturday. And for me I always associate those two things with lamb shanks or beef stew. So this weekend, we had both! This lamb shank recipe is easy which is what I love best, but I cannot take the credit as lamb is one of the easiest things to cook, all you need to give it is a bit of time in the oven. 

3 (or 4) lamb shanks
olive oil
1 thinly diced red onion
3 garlic cloves
200 ml /8 ounces red wine
can of chopped tomatoes
100 ml /4 ounces condensed chicken soup

100 ml /4 ounces balsamic vinegar
4 ounces boiling water
3 basil leaves

1. The first thing to do is to flour and season the lamb shanks & set aside. Preheat oven to 170C (150C with fan)/340F.
2. Heat some olive oil in a pan on medium-high heat. Use a dutch oven if you have one so that you can transfer directly to the oven covered. I don't own one so I use an saute pan and then I transfer everything to a casserole dish using tongs and a spoon.
3. Brown the onion and the garlic cloves then remove from the pan. Brown the lamb shanks on all sides. This is an important step. The sides should be brown but should not sit for very long cooking in the pan. Remove them from the pan and place in a casserole dish.
4. Return cooked onion & garlic to the pan. Add wine, canned tomatoes, condensed chicken soup, balsamic vinegar and boiling water. Bring to a bubble and then spoon the mixture into the casserole dish over the lamb shanks. Add basil leaves to the shanks. Either cover with lid or very very tightly with foil.
5. Place in oven for 2.5 hours.

I served with wild rice (see below) & broccoli.

For the wild rice, I have had wild rice before and thought the taste to be a bit too "earthy" for my liking. So this is what I did to improve it.  
1. First, because wild rice should ideally be something easily served cold or warm (though warm tastes much better), you need to remove the starch. Wash the rice 3 or 4 times and then let it soak in water for at least 30 minutes. The water should come off of the rice clean or nearly clean by this point.
2. Melt some butter in a pan and add the rice until the rice is nicely buttered. Cook for about 5 to 10 minutes.
3. Cook like you would normal rice (ie 2:1 proportions) but instead of using water use chicken stock and toss in sultanas (raisins) after you add the stock.
4. Bring to a boil. Cover. Reduce heat and cook until all the water is absorbed.

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