Saturday, January 24, 2009

Lamb Shank Stifado with Sauteed Potatoes (Page 511)


  • Date: Saturday, January 17, 2009 -- 6pm
  • Location: Bloomington, IN
  • Kitchen: My Apartment
  • Dining Companion: Matty
  • Recipe Rating: B-

I try to always make a special dinner for my special gentleman whenever he returns from one of his trips. I made this lamb dish to welcome him back from Korea last weekend. To start, I melted sugar on the stove, to form a golden caramel, then added red wine vinegar to it. I added chopped canned tomatoes, red wine, rosemary, cinnamon stick, bay leaf, salt, and pepper and brought it to a boil. Then I added the lamb shanks and braised it in the oven for several hours. In the meantime I cooked and peeled pearl onions (cursed pearl onions!) and steamed red potatoes. After they had steamed I browned the potatoes in butter and garlic on the stovetop. When the meat had finished braising, I removed it from the braising liquid then added the pearl onions to the braising liquid and boiled to form a thickened sauce. I served the lamb topped with the sauce, accompanied by the potatoes. I had high hopes for this dish -- braised lamb is typically delicious -- but this rendition was a bit disappointing. I had a couple small complaints (pearl onions annoy the crap out of me, and the garlic burnt while the potatoes browned) but my main issue was the flavor of the lamb. It was really sweet. The recipe had a quarter of a cup of sugar in it (which isn't a lot, but is quite a bit for a savory dish). The sweetness of the sugar was very much intesified, however, by making a caramel sauce from it. So there was this profound sweetness to the dish. The dish also contained a cup of red wine, which is quite a bit. I like caramel, I like red wine, and I like lamb, but I didn't enjoy these three flavors together so much. It seemed like it had the potential to be tasty, but the flavors were somehow out of balance. In a different ratio it might have worked. In any event, the recipe certainly wasn't bad, but the leftovers also didn't fly off the shelf of the refrigerator as braised meat leftovers usually do. Neither my special gentleman and I were too taken with it.

Here is the recipe.

My special gentleman skis well, and enjoys it. Throughout the almost two and a half years we have been together I have insisted on several occasions that I would be happy to go skiing with him. However, I hadn't worn a pair of downhill skis in probably 16 years, and 16 years ago, when I was 12, I hated to ski. So although I was happy to try it if my special gentleman wanted me to, I never pushed the issue too much.

Yesterday I was trying to figure out what we should do for Special Saturday today -- we try to do something fun on Saturdays, typically going places we haven't been before. I casually glanced at the website for the nearest ski hill and they had a special deal today: wear pink and get $12 off your lift ticket. So we decided to go! This morning we got bundled up, adding whatever pink clothing we could find in the closet, and headed to Paoli, Indiana. It was a strange experience in a lot of ways. It was chilly today, but it has been 50 degrees the last two days in Southern Indiana. So there is absolutely no snow in sight on the way there. The ski resort makes its own snow of course, but standing on the top of the "mountain" you could see this big snowy area surrounded by green and brown fields as far as the eye could see. Very weird.

The morning didn't go so well -- it took me a while to feel comfortable on the skis, and using the ski lifts, etc... My special gentleman showed me how to slow down while skiing, but at first I couldn't turn, which led to me almost running over some innocent children in pink snowsuits. After lunch (french fries with nacho cheese sauce, one of those big soft pretzels, and some yogurt), with renewed energy we hit the slopes again. By the middle of the afternoon I was starting to get the hang of it, and in the end I even had fun. I am looking forward to skiing again, and hopefully getting increasingly more comfortable with it. The last part of the day I sat in the ski lodge and drank hot apple cider while Matty did some real skiing (I myself never made it off of the green slopes, but he can do the black diamond ones). It was a good day! It didn't seem to me that skiing would be nearly as tiring as it was though. When we got home I meant to take a twenty minute nap and woke up nearly two and a half hours later. Whoops!


GilaB said...

We loved this recipe, other than the potatoes. The potato part, however, results in burnt garlic way before it gives you cooked potatoes. Either add the garlic when the potatoes are halfway cooked, or just make garlic-roasted potatoes instead. Also, frozen pearl onions cut the prep time by at least half, and give the same results as peeling all those *&%$ tiny little fresh ones.

Teena said...

Yeah, my garlic burnt too! Frozen pearl onions are a great idea. Otherwise it just takes forever...