Braised Lamb Shank
Braised Lamb Shank
Video: Merlot braised lamb shanks, asiago cheese risotto, natural jus.
Braising large pieces of meat have always indicated a level of knowledge or appreciation for cooking. It requires patience, information about the cut, flavor profiles, aromatics. and most importantly TIME. As I began to braise more things I understood the control I had over each ingredient. I could take advantage of acidic properties that were in the tomato and wine, I could bring out the brilliant fragrance of herbs, I could create a flavorful stock to further push the level of flavor in the meat. Braising is a special process that shows the basics of cooking and explains patience.
The first braised dish I ever had was my moms crockpot stew. She really only made it during the winter. It was stewed beef, potatoes, carrots, and that was it. It was never good. The potatoes never tasted like anything, the meat was tough, the liquid had no body. BUT IT KEPT US FED. As I went to my first restaurant I was shown a dish that was an Espresso Braised Boar Shank with a fried risotto cake, honey chipotle drizzle, and pesto finish. This insanely large piece of meat was already finished by the time I got to the restaurant. As a matter of fact, a gentleman named Will always handled the service of the boar shanks, and Casey handled the prep of them. I never got to see them prepared.
It wasn’t until I began prepping braised short ribs that I understood the process. Chef Derek Langford was adding boneless braised short rib to the menu where he rubbed the pieces of meat with tomato paste then soaked them in red wine. After that he added aromatics in the form of mirepoix, herbs, and beef stock. They came out perfect. Every time. The flavor was bold, the stock was divine, and it was served with parsnip puree and root vegetables. This was the FIRST dish that made me realize food evokes feeling. When it’s cold outside, you want something that is warm, that feels like home cooking. When you’re ready to feel full and happy then you gravitate towards hearty, full dishes. That’s what my mom was doing with her beef stew.