Saturday, February 26, 2011

Silencing the Lamb

Hola peoples.  So maybe this wasn't best title choice, but I got the seal of approval from Fish who just nodded in agreement because he was too busy zoned in on his precious Warriors to give me a coherent response.  Do I need to mention that they were losing by like 20+ points? I guess I shouldn't rub it in :) I digress. So silencing the lamb it is. Or maybe I should have titled it slicing the lamb? Okay, I will stop there I promise. I made my first attempt at cooking lamb shanks today, so if you aren't interested in reading my escapades in the culinary world, it would be advisable to stop reading now!  :) 

My good friend Amina gave me a very mouthwatering recipe for Tandoori lamb shanks but unfortunately for me I was fresh out of Tandoori Masala, the key ingredient (sorry home slice). So instead I used a mashed up version of Munira's Aunty's Roasted Lamb shank with my own.  I took the liberty of taking a few iPhone photos for you.  My iPhone camera sucks, so bear with me please.  

Last night when I popped into my local Safeway to get milk, I walked by the meat section and was immediately drawn to the lamb display.  All the lamb at Safeway is from New Zealand which also makes it halal. Woo hoo! They had quite a variety, from boneless leg of lamb, to bone-in leg of lamb, lamb steaks, racks of lamb, lamb chops and lamb shanks. I prefer to cook the boneless leg of lamb or the rack but since I had never attempted lamb shanks before I figured it couldn't hurt to try.  I'm not one of those measuring type people, I prefer to approximate everything. So for all you people out there who need exact measurements, I tried my best to approximate the measurements but feel free to tweak it to your liking. That's what I always tend to do. I was once told by a very wise friend, that if you change 3 ingredients in a recipe, then it automatically becomes your very own recipe. Works for me! :) (I kid, I kid)

  • 2 pounds of Lamb shanks
  • 2 lemons (zest & juice)
  • 10 cloves of garlic (use less or more, I'm a garlic fiend so I probably used more)
  • 3 tablespoons of unripened minced papaya (you can find this pre-packaged now at the Halal Meat store)
  • 1/2 teaspoon of turmeric (supposedly takes away the gamey flavor)
  • 1 teaspoon of cumin powder
  • 1 teaspoon of coriander
  • 1 (or more) teaspoon of Cayenne
  • 1 tablespoon of chops/steak Masala (you can use Shan or whatever brand you prefer)
  • 1/3 cup of Greek Yogurt (Why Greek? Well that's all I had in my fridge, plus I like the taste. I don't think the type matters)
  • 1/4 cup of Olive oil
  • 1/2 of cilantro
  • 4/5 green onions
  • 1 small pear (I just threw this in because Munira Aunty mentioned using Green Chutney in her recipe and I thought it would add a little extra something) 
  • 1/2 cup of mint
  • 1 teaspoon of salt (you might need to adjust this. I tend to measure everything in the palm of my hand)
  • 1 beef cube
In a casserole dish I added the yogurt, all the spices (cayenne, cumin, coriander, salt, chops/steak Masala, turmeric), the minced papaya and the lemon zest/ juice and gave it a good whisk.  I took the liberty of taking of photograph of my handy dandy microplane (and yes that was a Dora reference) because I would be ever so lost without it.  I use it for everything. To zest/grind/mince any kind of citrus, garlic, ginger, onions, really anything.

In a food processor or a mini chopper put the garlic cloves, olive oil, green onions, cilantro, mint and the pear and mince everything up. 

Then add this mixture to the yogurt and spice mixture in the casserole dish and make sure it's all blended together nicely. Voila! The marinade is ready.

Then place the shanks in the marinade and score the the lamb.  Cover it and let it marinade overnight or as long as you can. I'm all about marinading forever. I like my food with lots of flavor. Who doesn't?

Score both sides of the meat

Marinade Bath

The shanks will need to cook in the oven for about two hours. Heat a grill pan on medium to high heat so that you can sear the shanks before you bake them. Bring two cups of water to a soft rolling boil and plop the beef cube in and make sure it properly dissolves.  Make sure to preheat the oven to 300 degrees.

Shake off all excess marinade (really shake it off, or it won't get a pretty brown crust) and sear the shanks on all sides. Meanwhile, take the beef stock and pour it all in a new casserole dish with one cup of the remaining lamb marinade. After the shanks are seared place them in the casserole dish with the cooking liquid, cover them tightly with foil and bake the shanks for about two hours.

As you can see that I went a little too sear happy. Maybe a little less char would be better.

After the two hours are over, crank the broiler and broil the shanks for about five minutes tops, also making sure you turn the them so the meat caramelizes all around. Take the shanks out of the oven and now go get your grub on! 

According to Fish, it was extremely delicious (he's not the most accurate judge because he says that about everything I cook. He's sweet but biased). The shanks were tasty, but they were missing a spicy kick to it. I loved that the meat fell off the bone and that it had a nice green chutneyish crust to it. I will definitely cook this again but making sure to increase the spice factorial.

My plated glory: Roasted lamb shank, goat cheese mashed potatoes, sauteed green beans and quinoa.

Well that's about it for now. :) Enjoy, we sure did.


  1. looks delicious! i can't wait to try your recipes :)

  2. that looks amazing reh!