Lamb Shank and a Stew of Lentils, Apricots, Almonds and Wild Ramp

Lamb Shank and a Stew of Lentils, Apricots, Almonds and Wild Ramp

Recipe Excerpted from Elements of Taste
by Gray Kunz and Peter Kaminsky
Used with permission from TWBookmark.com.
© 2001 by Peter Kaminsky and Gray Kunz


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MARINATING AND BRAISING combine two methods of infusing and developing deep layers of flavor. Although the ingredient list looks a little long, you have our assurance that this is a pared down version of a much longer Lespinasse recipe. The fruity, acid, marinade/braising liquid gives great definition to the soft slow cooked lamb. This marinade showcases the meat rather than hiding it as often happens with a classic brown sauce. Honey and mustard balance one another in smoothing the meat and refreshing the palate. Serve with Lentil.

SERVES 4

MARINADE
3/4 cup carrots in thick rounds
1/4 cup roughly chopped celery root
1 large onion, diced
1/4 Cup roughly chopped ginger
1 large leek, split
8 cloves garlic, left whole
2 shallots, roughly cut
3 cloves
1 tablespoon ground cumin
1/2 tablespoon ground mace
1/2 tablespoon whole black peppercorns
1 medium bunch thyme
1 small bunch rosemary
4 cups crushed tomatoes
4 cups dry white wine
1/2 cup lemon juice

Combine all of the ingredients in a large bowl.

LAMB
4 lamb shanks
Marinade (see above)
Kosher salt
Freshly ground white pepper
2 tablespoons grapeseed or other neutral vegetable oil
2 tablespoons flour
2 cups water

Coat the shanks with the marinade and refrigerate for one to two days (the longer the better).

Drain the shanks and the marinade vegetables, reserving the liquid. Bring the liquid to a boil in a saucepan, then strain through cheesecloth. Set aside.

Preheat the oven to 275 degrees. Season the shanks with salt and pepper. Heat the oil in a Dutch oven or braising pan over mediumhigh heat. Add the shanks and brown on all sides, 8 minutes. Remove and set aside. Next, caramelize the vegetables, cooking until browned and tender. Add the flour, and mix to coat the vegetables. Deglaze with the boiled marinade liquid, then return the shanks to the pan. Bring to a simmer, cover, and braise in the oven until the lamb is very tender, about 3 1/2 hours. Add water if it has reduced too much. Remove the shanks and cover with tin foil to keep warm. Strain the braising liquid through a sieve, pressing the vegetables so that they thicken up the liquid. Degrease and reserve.

SAUCE
Strained braising liquid (see above)
3 tablespoons prepared mustard
2 tablespoons honey (eucalyptus if available)
2 tablespoons butter
Kosher salt
Freshly ground white pepper

Heat the braising liquid in a saucepan over low heat. Add the mustard, honey, and butter and beat with an immersion blender (or whisk) until frothy. Add salt, pepper, and finish with pickling juice to taste. Beat or whisk again and keep warm.

TOPPING
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1/2 cup apricot almonds (the roasted pits of almonds) available in Middle Eastern Stores or substitute whole roasted almonds
Kosher salt
Freshly ground white pepper
2 tablespoons dried homemade bread crumbs
5 sprigs of thyme, picked
1/2 cup chopped dried apricots
1/2 cup Pickled Ramps
1/3 cup mint, roughly chopped then measured
1/3 cup chopped chives
1/3 cup parsley, roughly chopped then measured
2 tablespoons butter

Heat the oil in a medium skillet over medium-high heat. Add the almonds, season with salt and pepper, and roast until fragrant. Add the bread crumbs and cook until golden, then add the thyme and a bit more salt and pepper.

In another pan, heat the chopped apricots with the pickled ramps over medium heat. Swirl in the butter.

PLATING
Place lentil stew in the bottom of four wide soup plates. Place a lamb shank in each. Spoon sauce over the shanks and lentils. Top with apricot-almond-ramp mixture. Garnish with mint, chives, and parsley if desired, then serve.

OUR TASTE NOTES
The deep meatiness of this dish is a platform that supports everything else. There is a slight floral herbal perfume at the outset. This leads into the sharp and tangy pickling juice which, with the spices, focuses the palate. The ramps are sharp and bulby, so they pull up meatiness and punctuate it. The almonds add crunch, which again punctuates, and also adds a light bitterness. The result is that the unctuous meat is contained, and comes on in waves of flavor.

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