And note that Easter actually falls on April Fool’s Day this year…
A leg of lamb is a good solid traditional feast for omnivores at Easter, although many will vouch for a good smoked ham. (Dad, of course, would always put in a plug for rabbit, Mother didn’t cotton(tail) to the idea of the Easter bunny on the Easter table, until one year she relented, and Dad cooked it for the four of us. But, Mom and Dad usually made leg of lamb, served medium rare with copious garlic, some rosemary and nary a touch of that mint jelly in sight. (I believe it was Mother who put her foot down on that condiment.)
If you don’t want to host up a whole leg of lamb, there’s always a lamb shank or two for a more cozy holiday night. Less meat, but a little tougher, and there’s more connective tissue, so low and slow and well-braised works best. And it looks much like a leg of lamb done miniature.
I just bought a whole lamb from Sepe’s Farm, in Sandy Hook, CT. Some years back I’d bought half a lamb, and now I decided, before I depart Connecticut, to up the ante a bit. You get to pick the cuts the way you like them (the rest becomes ground lamb), and if you want the “odd bits”, ask – I certainly did. I’ve tucked the meat away in stand alone freezers, and am reserving the larger cuts for when I have lamb-loving friends over — unfortunately a lot of folk are not fond of this meat. Their loss, but I do so much want to share with those who appreciate!
And of course I wanted the shanks! Cooked right, they yield such delectable and tasty meals! And of course, I have to note that I’ve made lamb shanks twice before for this blog, but this recipe does indeed differ.
I chose to cook this with bok choy as my vegetable. That was what was in my fridge when I worked up this post. That or okra, and I don’t think most people in the mood to celebrate Easter think of okra as a go-along veggie. (I have posting PLANS for that okra… later… if it works…)
Prep Time: 10 minutes for the shank. 10 minutes for the bok choy.
Cook Time: 2 hours.
Rest Time: 10 minutes.
Serves: 1 shank per person.
Leftovers: Yes. Nuke or re-heat in the oven.
Leek and Rosemary Lamb Shanks with Bok Choy
- 1 lamb shank per person. Double everything below accordingly for more shanks, except the vermouth.
- 1 teaspoon cooking oil, for searing the shank. (Avocado oil, ghee, coconut oil, or in my case, I used leftover bacon fat from breakfast.)
- 2 LARGE cloves of garlic, peeled but whole. Or, 3 smaller ones.
- 1 medium-large leek, cleaned and trimmed. You can indeed use some of the green.
- 2/3 cups of extra dry vermouth. For each additional shank, add somewhat shy of about 1/4 cup. If you don’t use the alcohol, sub in low sodium chicken broth, home made or otherwise.
- 2-3 sprigs fresh rosemary.
- 2-3 sprigs fresh thyme
- salt and pepper to taste.
Pre-heat your oven to 325 F / 162 C.
Get a skillet with your cooking oil of choice up to a medium high heat, and start searing your shank(s). A large skillet may hold up to three of them. Sear each side 5-7 minutes, until a brown color appears. I held the sides that wouldn’t stand, up for about 3 minutes each.
Prepare a pan with the garlic and leek, and add the shank in.
Use the vermouth to de-glaze the skillet you browned the meat on. I’d let the temp drop down a bit before adding, or you will have splatters EVERYWHERE. Pour a test drop or two, and decide when to add.
De-glaze, using a spatula to mix the fonds into the vermouth (or chicken broth).
Pour this over the shank.
Add the fresh herbs and other seasonings, and cover the pan tightly, even if you have to resort to aluminum foil.
Place in oven to roast for 2 hours.
That Bok Choy
- two or three or four stalks of baby bok choy per person, depending on size and desire.
- 1 teaspoon cooking oil, see above.
- a pinch or two of ground pepper.
Chop the bok choy coarsely, then add to your skillet with a little oil and pepper. You can do this 2-3 minutes before removing the shank from the oven, and allow it to cook while the shank rests. Stir occasionally, until done. The bok choy should retain some crispiness.
Plate and serve.
After all is said and done, reserve the bone or bones for future bone stock in your freezer.
The texture of the meat was tender, fall-off-the-bone savory. Smash the well-roasted garlic cloves over the meat, and enjoy with the leek and bok choy. The rosemary permeates, and as usual, complements lamb nicely.