The baby slept in this weekend, until 7:30, and the grownups in the house felt like new people. We could walk without running into doorways, talk without sniping at each other, contemplate new projects. W. put up and painted crown molding in the kitchen. I spent the day braising meats and finally screwing up the courage to cut a chicken into pieces, a process long in my recipe deal breaker category. (More on that later.)
For Sunday dinner, I turned to The Grassfed Gourmet Cookbook again and made braised lamb shanks with Pennsylvania red cabbage and Bavarian bread dumplings. The shanks were from the whole lamb we picked up last week, cooked a good part of the day with wine and onions in the Crockpot. The red cabbage was a mound soft maroon shreds flavored with bacon and cloves and apples and vinegar. The dumplings I made a little too carelessly with bread that was a little too fresh and onions chopped a little too large, and they fell apart in the simmering water. But the pieces we scooped out of the pan? Rich and bread-y and perfect with the lamb’s hearty sauce.
This meal was the kind that makes W. swoon and declare his love anew. The taste of a German childhood on a crisp fall day.
Braised Lamb Shanks (for 2) (based on a recipe from The Grassfed Gourmet Cookbook)
2 T. olive oil
2 medium onions, thinly sliced (about 1/2 pound)
1 T. chopped fresh rosemary
about 2 T. flour mixed with salt and pepper
2 lamb shanks
1 1/2 c. red wine
1 1/2 c. chicken or beef broth
1 bay leaf
Put 1 c. wine, broth, and bay leaves into your slow cooker. Turn to high to heat liquids.
Cook the onion in half the olive oil over medium-high heat until browned, about 10 minutes. Stir often, but take the time while the onions are cooking to coat the shanks in the flour mixture. Add the rosemary to the onions and scoop them onto a plate.
Add the rest of the olive oil to your pan and turn heat to high. (Honestly, I never measure olive oil for sautéing, just splash a bit into the hot pan.) Brown the lamb shanks on both sides, about 5 minutes a side. Transfer your shanks to the plate with the onions.
Pour 1/2 c. wine into the hot pan, stirring and simmering a couple minutes, scraping brown bits up off the bottom of the pan. Pour into your slow cooker (with other liquids already in it). Add lamb and onions.
Leave on high for 30 minutes, then reduce to low and cook about 5 hours, until the meat is starting to fall off the bone.
You can let cool, cover, and refrigerate at this point if you are cooking ahead.
Transfer shanks to a plate and liquid to a pan on the stove. Boil liquid until it reduces to a sauce-y consistency. Add shanks to pan, reduce heat, and cook until the meat is hot through.