Monday, 3 June 2013

Lamb shanks with celeriac mash

Last bitter return to Finland left me desperately missing The Gentleman. Almost as much as my Spanish kitchen. And he knew this.

So, a couple of days after my heartbreaking homecoming I found the Amazon delivery guy at my door with a surprise from The Gentleman: Nigel Slater's Simple Cooking DVD-boxset.

Even is one finds Nigel hard to warm to, it's impossible not to love the series. It praises good ingredients and keeping things simple which produces occasionally surprisingly fantastic results.

It also plays with different textures and balancing contrasting flavours, which bring new dimensions to the most simplest of dishes. Hopefully some of that has rubbed off on me too!

The series is something to seriously feast one's eyes on also because of its unbelievable camera-work which celebrates food in a way that conveys a true passion and appreciation for the topic. It's such a treat to watch and once again really ignited a desire to learn and develop in that field. 

One of the ingredients that kept lingering in my mind was lamb shank. Good, slowly and lovingly braised lamb shank is nothing short of phenomenal - it is so tender and scrumptious it falls off the bone. And since I hadn't had it since Tunisia, it was time to grab the bull by the horns and the lamb by the legs. As a side dish I served celeriac mash. Though it has nothing to do with celery, it does have mild celery notes that some people find too much. If you're one of those people, feel free to substitute some of it with potato. 

Feeds 3

Lamb shanks 

3 lamb shanks
1 tbsp tomato concentrate
9 shallots
9 allspice peppers
3 bay leaves
3 sprigs of rosemary
3,5 dl strong stock
3,5 dl red wine

Heat the oven 150°. If you want, toss the shanks in flour and shake off the excess. This helps to brown and crisp the exterior and also thickens the sauce. Brown the shanks in a pan in a mixture of oil and butter until beautifully brown. Then add tomato paste, shallots, garlic, rosemary, bay leaves and rosemary. Toss them together a bit and add stock and wine. Bring to boil and then transfer (covered) to the oven and cook 2-2,5 hours. Turn the shanks in the liquid halfway through.

Remove the shanks and keep covered. Strain the liquid bashing the garlic, peppers and rosemary to get out every last bit of taste. Let boil over high heat until it reduces. If needed, thicken with thickening agent of your choice. Before serving add a knob of butter which not only adds a nice sheen, also mellows the flavours. Check the taste, season as needed and serve with lamb and celeriac mash.

Celeriac mash

appr. 900 g celeriac
3 roasted garlic cloves
1 tsp thyme (mine was dried)
2 generous tbsp butter/ olive oil
(pinch of nutmeg)
salt, white pepper

Peel the celeriacs and cut into smallish cubes. Soften in a pan in a  bit of butter or oil. squeeze the paste out of roasted garlic and add to the celeriac along with thyme. Add a little bit of water (or vegetable stock) - just enough to merely cover them. Let cook covered over medium heat. Once the celeriac is done and most of the liquid has evaporated, mash them with the method of your choice (I like potato ricer) and add a bit of butter or olive oil to bring the mash to right consistency. Season with salt and white pepper and serve.

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