lamb shank, onion, balsamic, wine; greens; Drama; Wagner


I picked this entrée because of the weather forecast.

I thought we’d be enjoying 3 hours of their awesome cooking smells in addition to relishing the consumption of these two very rich, slowly-braised locally-sourced lamb shanks, together with the considerable delight of being snug inside during an early March snow storm.

The snow turned out to be a no-show, but the other parts were even better than I had anticipated.

The recipe is from the first of the terrific cookbooks by Gray and Rogers, ‘Rogers Gray Italian Country Cook Book’, and its both simple to follow and simply delicious.

I’ve normally served lamb shanks with polenta, but I love boiled German potato dumplings as much as I love boiled cornmeal. I had a package of 4 Kartoffelklöße in the freezer. Yeah, sure, I didn’t make them myself, but they really are terrific, and they’re incredibly easy to serve; remembering to defrost the package in time was the most difficult part of their preparation.

  • with an oven turned on and set to 300º, two 8 or 9-ounce lamb shanks from Walter Adam‘s Shannon Brook Farm stall in the Union Square Greenmarket, dusted with a local Union Square Greenmarket-purchased whole wheat flour from The Blew family of Oak Grove Plantation in Pittstown, N.J., the flour having been seasoned with plenty of sea salt and fresh-ground black pepper, browned on all sides inside an oval, heavy, enameled cast iron pot, one with a snug lid, the shanks removed, the heat lowered and 2 peeled and finely-sliced sliced red onions from Norwich Meadows Farm added and cooked for about 10 minutes, or until softened and light brown, followed by 2 peeled and chopped cloves of Windfall Farms’ ‘music garlic’ and a few tablespoons of chopped fresh rosemary leaves from Trader Joe’s, all cooked for a couple of minutes, the heat raised and one fourth of a cup of balsamic vinegar and a third of a cup of red wine added, the liquids reduced over a few minutes until almost able to coat a spoon, the shanks now returned to the pot and the heat reduced, its contents covered with a piece of moistened parchment paper cut to fit its oval shape and the lid placed on, the pot set inside the oven, whose heat was now lowered to 275, or even 250, cooked until the meat is very tender (checking the meat every 20-25 minutes, adding more wine if necessary, each time basting it with a brush, turning the meat at least once, then finally checking for doneness after 2 hours, although 30 more minutes than that will likely be better (while they cooked, the shanks checked from time to time, using a brush to baste with the juices and adding more wine if the shanks look too dry, arranged on the plates next to some warm potato dumplings, the sauce drizzled on both meat and potatoes (the dumplings described below)

  • purple mustard greens from Lani’s Farm, stirred into a little olive oil inside a large vintage copper pot in which 2 small cloves of sliced ‘music garlic’ from Windfall Farms had been allowed to sweat, seasoned with salt and pepper, finished on the plates with a drizzle of olive oil
  • thick slices of a really, really delicious 100% whole wheat bread from the bakery at Runner & Stone, (they were invited to give the potato dumplings a hand with the rich sauce)
  • the wine was a Greek (Eastern Macedonia and Thrace/Drama) white, En Oeno 2010 (Cabernet Sauvignon 65% / Merlot 30% / Cabernet Franc 5%), from Foragers Market Wine
  • the music was what has sometimes been described as the greatest recording of all times, the 1962 live Bayreuth Festival House performance of Wagner’s 1877-1882 opera, ‘Parsifal’, in which Hans Knappertsbusch conducts the Bayreuth Festival Orchestra and the Bayreuth Festival Chorus, with soloists Hans Hotter, Jess Thomas, Gustav Neidlinger, Irene Dalis, Niels Moller, Gerd Nienstedt, Sona Cervena, Ursula Boese, Gerhard Stolze, Georg Paskuda, Gundula Janowitz, Anja Silja, Elsa-Margrete Gardelli , Martti Talvela, George London, Rita Bartos, and Dorothea Siebert [we could only listen to the first 2 of 3 acts; we will pick up the rest on Monday]


[the image of the package of Kartoffelklöße is from the Melle’s Best site]