Monday, October 6, 2008

Two Hits and a Miss : Braised Lamb with Roasted Onions and Aspargus and Parsley Mashed Potatoes on the Side

Have you ever made an entree where your sides are shining stars and your main dish came to be a disastrous dud? This unfortunate scenario befell me a few weeks back all because my local supermarket put some lamb shanks on sale.

I love lamb, not lamp (sorry, couldn't help the Anchorman reference). Every Easter my Italian family served a large succulent lamb roast with mushrooms and homemade gravy that is jowl-watering, so when I spotted a cheap package of dual lamb shanks, I said, "My Aunts can do it and so can I." Boy was I wrong, very, very wrong. My first mistake to my missed main dish was my impatience. To properly braise any meat in a pan (if braising on the stove-top), the lamb should be totally covered for at least 3.5 hours. Well, I didn't have a lid to fit my largest skillet and I couldn't wait only braising for about 2 hours. My second mistake was buying cheap lamb. After gnawing on my shank until my jaw gave way, I was able to tear through the meat enough to see the fattest ribbon of fat I have ever seen in my entire life. So because of the monstrous amount of gelatinous fat and my inability to render it out, my lamb didn't measure up and was a miss of a dish.

'The Miss' Braised Lamb Shank

Hit number one of this meal is my never-miss homemade mashed potatoes. My late brother Nate taught me how to make always spot-on mashers, and his recipe has never failed me in over 10 years. No matter what potato you start with, scrub down about 4-6 medium sized ones and cut them up into quarters or sixths depending on your forearm and wrist strength. Bring a medium pot of water to a rapid boil, sprinkle some salt, and boil those bad boys until your fork easily pierces a few pieces. Once they are tender enough, drain via a strainer and dump into a good size mixing bowl. The rest of the ingredients are measured via eyeball and taste because that's the only way I know how! 2-3 Tablespoons of milk, 4-6 Tablespoons of salted butter, salt, pepper, and in this case chopped parsley-about 2 handfuls. Now comes the is the fun part, or the therapeutic part depending on your personal levels of aggression. First cut up your mixture using a fork and a dinner knife. This will break-up the skins because their texture is too good to take out of your mashed potatoes. Then take your masher and mash to your desired texture. I like a good balance of chunky/smooth (if that makes any sense). TRUST ME, this method will make your everyday starch scrumtrulescent (Will Ferrell reference #2) time and time again.

Hit #1-Nate's Mashed Potatoes

Only recently in my life have I discovered the joys of roasting vegetables at a high temperature, and thank God I did! Hit number two was my roasted Red Onions and Asparagus. So easy and so delicious it should be outlawed. Turn your oven up to 400 degrees, roll your vegetables in extra virgin olive oil, season with salt, pepper, oregano and parsley. Pop that pan into the oven for 6-8 minutes and you get a crunchy, cooked, crav-a-licous vegetable side dish.

Hit #2 Roasted Red Onion and Asparagus


James said...

"The rest of the ingredients are measured via eyeball"

Now that's an odd way to measure - do you have to take the eyeball out first, or do you have a false one? Definitely one for Halloween though....


CaptnRachel aka Tha Pizza Cutta said...

James - LMAO! yes, I take out an eyeball and fill the socket up with the desired amount of ingredient and then flip my head over the pot or pan to get the seasoning just right. Hahahaha :)

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