Lamb Shanks Eben’s Way

Eben, an old friend of Margot’s, uses a leg of lamb, but it is the fatty qualities of the lamb shank I have found to be most suited to this dish.  This dish goes very well with quince cheese (a very firm paste which gets made from cooking down quinces and their natural pectin), a conserve you can get from delicatessense, village fetes, and some supermarkets.

This dish was completed during the great 24 hour rush, and thusly there are few pictures to trot out and show off like usual.  Heck, I even had to compromise making this recipe by leaving the shanks to tender mercy of my pressure cooker.  Despite all of the insanity and the differing steps everything turned out wonderfully.  I’ll elaborate as the post goes on.

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Here we have four lamb shanks—the two in the back are propping up the front two—each with five holes stuffed with bits of garlic and a few raisins. The garlic and raisins help to flavor every bit of the muscle, even deep down near the bone.  The shanks were then placed in a plastic container with some red wine, red wine vinegar, juniper berries, allspice, bay leaves and black peppercorns to marinate for a few days in my fridge before my mad cooking spree.

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On the day of the event, I moved all four shanks and the liquid they were soaking in to my handy-dandy little pressure cooker.

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This device is honestly a “set it and forget it” kind of deal and during the 24 hour cookathon I was so happy to just let it do its thing quietly in the background as I worked on other recipes.  Set a temp, punch in a time, and once it’s finished you have some tasty food all from one pot.  If you don’t have a good pressure cooker at your disposal, you should start looking now so you’ll know what to say when you talk to Santa next.

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Hours into the insanity, my shanks were thoroughly cooked.  With great ceremony I let the steam valve loose, and much whistling and steam commenced. Once all the noise finished, I had four lovely looking lamb shanks, the meat just managing to hold onto the bone.

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When we plated the first shank, Chef David jokingly added a sprig of parsley as a joke.
Lamb Shank's Eben's Way

It was quickly removed.

So, lets get into what was done incorrectly first.  I totally forgot that the braising liquid was supposed to be moved to a different pot and reduced down to thicken, and the fat needed to be skimmed off.  The grease surrounding the shank is unsightly, and yet it was still really tasty.  Mr. Henderson pointed out in the text above that the shanks should be enjoyed with quince cheese.  Despite trying my darndest to locate just a small amount, none was to be found in Austin.  Next time I’ll make sure I have some handy before I make this again.

Now, here’s what went right: everything else.  The meat was hammer-tender—as in you could cut it with the blunt end of a hammer—and packed with flavor from the garlic, raisins and braising liquid.  It was wonderfully complex and comforting, slightly sweet and unctuous. No two ways about it, this was an incredible way to prepare lamb shanks.

Eben, thank you kindly for sharing this with Mr. Henderson. It’s a fantastic recipe.

One down, thirty five to go.

6 thoughts on “Lamb Shanks Eben’s Way

  1. I’m sure you already knew this, but in case you didn’t (or other readers are confused), “quince cheese” also refers to membrillo. Many fancy food shops will know what membrillo is- it’s a traditional accompaniment to Manchego cheese in Spain and they’re often sold together.

    The recipe looks lovely and like the perfect thing for a fall/winter night! Any advice on cooking it without a pressure cooker? Would a slow cooker also do, or does it need to be cooked on the stovetop?

    • Membrillo! Oh wow, I know about membrillo, but just did not make that connection at all. Thank you very much for helping me with that.

      I’m sure you could do the shanks in a slow cooker, but you might want to grab a copy of Mr. Henderson’s book to make sure. ;)

      Thanks!

  2. Ryan,
    This looks delicious and perfect for this time of year, with or without the grease puddle :). I seriously might make it soon.
    Regarding quince cheese, like Dromeda said, look for membrillo. In Houston I can easily find it in the International or Latin section of my local HEB store. I bet yours will have it too. It’s available in any Fiesta store as well, not sure you have those in Austin though.

    • Yessir, we have a few Fiesta stores around my area. I find that they have some of the best prices on pork. Membrillo. Ha!

  3. I could not live without my pressure cooker. It’s my favorite kitchen implement. 8 qt Kuhn Rikon. Also, thanks for sitting down for the interview. You’ll be pleased to know over a thousand people have read it so far. RL

    • Thank you kindly sir and I’ve just posted a link to your story. Hopefully, my old normal boring life will continue now. :)

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