Posts Tagged 'preserved lemons'

Shank You Very Much

Braising. It’s one of my favorite ways of preparing meats. Braising uses moist heat and time and takes tougher, less expensive cuts that have huge flavor, and break them down into tender delicious dishes.

Im going to over two recipes today. Moroccan Lamb Shanks With White Bean Ragu which contains a variety of spices and seasonings and Beef Shanks In Red Wine that has less ingredients, but a full rich flavor.

The 1st recipe is not real picture intensive because I was too busy cooking. 🙂

Moroccan Lamb Shanks with White Bean Ragu, Chick Pea Mash, and Roasted Cauliflower

4 Lamb shanks
1 T Cumin
1 t Turmeric
2 t Coriander
1/2 t Cayenne Pepper
1/2 t Paprika
1 t Fennel Seed
2 t Kosher Salt
1/2 t Black Pepper
2 t Mint
1 T Chopped Ginger
1 Onion
4 T Olive Oil
1 qt Canned Tomatoes
1 qt Stock
2 C White Wine
1/4 Preserved Lemon
1 Pint White Beans
Handful Of Spinach

2 can garbanzo beans/chick peas
1/4 C chopped Cilantro
1 C stock (chicken or veg)

1 head cauliflower
2 T olive oil
1 t Salt
2 t Pepper

Oven at 425.

Heat half the oil on a skillet. Sear the lamb shanks on all sides until brown. In a dutch oven heat the other half of the oil and brown the onion. As the onion is cooking add the cumin, turmeric, coriander, cayenne pepper, paprika, and fennel seed. Add the white wine and deglaze the pan.

Once the shanks are seared add them to the dutch oven. Add salt and pepper. Stir in the canned tomatoes, stock, beans, ginger, and mint.

Take the preserved lemons and cut the flesh out. Filet the pith off of the zest. Rinse the zest well under cold water. Slice the zest crosswise into the thinest strips you can muster. Add the strips to the pot. Bring the contents to a boil.

Cover the dutch oven and place in the oven for approximately 2-3 hours. Add the handful of spinach 20 minutes before serving and stir it in the pot. The meat on the shank should be very tender and fall easily off the bone.

Core the cauliflower. Break off the florets from the base. Cut larger florets in to smaller pieces by cutting up the stems and separating by hand. Place the cauliflower in a pan or cookie sheet. Drizzle with oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Then toss to coat. Roast the cauliflower for 25-30 minutes.

Combine the chick peas and stock in a pot. Heat. Roughly mash the peas with a fork or potato masher. Heat through. Add the cilantro and stir to combine.

Serve the cauliflower and chick pea mash next to the shank. Top the shank with the bean and spinach ragu.

These shanks are so flavorful as you taste the lamb with bursts of coriander and lemon, heat from the cumin and paprika, and the depth of the turmeric and ginger. It seems like a lot. But the white beans and chick peas help mellow it out.

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Hope you enjoy.

For a dish with less spice, but just as much depth, try my 2nd dish.

Beef Shanks In Red Wine On Polenta

4 Beef shanks
1 Onion
2 Stalks celery
1 Large carrot
1 Bottle of red wine (merlot or cabernet)
4 Garlic cloves
1 Bunch fresh thyme
4 T Olive oil
2 t Salt
1 qt Beef stock

1 C Corn meal
4 C+ Vegetable Stock
3 T butter

Oven at 400.

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Heat the oil in a dutch oven. One at a time, sear the shanks on all sides. Remove the shanks as they are seared and store on a plate.

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Chop the onion and cut the carrot and celery into 1/2″ pieces. Add them to the pot and cook until the onions start to turn translucent.

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Add the red wine, beef stock, and thyme.

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Bring the contents to a boil and cook to reduce some of the liquid. This concentrates the flavor.

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Cover and place the pot in the oven for 3-3 1/2 hours. The meat with retract from the bone and the connective tissue and meat will be very tender.

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Heat the vegetable stock to a boil. Slowly pour in the corn meal while stirring vigorously. Reduce to a simmer. This is where polenta gets tricky. You want it to be thick, but not lumpy. If it get’s too thin, cook it longer. If it gets lumpy, slowly add mor stock. Continue to cook for 30 minutes, stirring frequently.

These were so tender that as I tried to remove them from the pan the bones slipped from the meat. I pocked the marrow back into the bone and tossed the bones aside.

Spoon the polenta on a plate. Place a shank on top and the add the cooked vegetables.

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Preserved Lemons

I think I’ve mentioned a couple times now how many lemons I harvested.  That, and people keep giving me grocery bags of citrus.  Right now, I have two bags of grapefruit, a bag of pommelos, a bag of oranges, a bag of lemons, and a bag of tangelos sitting on my counter.  I hate to see food (especially produce) go to waste.  So when people offer it up, I always bring it home.  The tricky part is making sure it all gets used before it goes bad.

When I first looked in to a way of making citrus last longer, I came across Preserved Lemons.  I had never heard of them.  I guess they are huge in Morocco and some other middle eastern/north African dishes.  Preserved Lemons used one of the oldest preservation methods around.  Salt.


Preserved Lemons:

  • Lemons
  • Salt
  • Mason jars

Select your lemons.  I find the smaller ones are great for this.  Wash the exterior.

Cut each lemon down from the top, but not all the way through.  Then make a 2nd perpendicular cut, again, not all the way through.

Hold the lemon, slice side up, in the palm of your hand.  Use your fingers to open the cuts slightly.  then pour Kosher salt into the lemon.  Use your hand to hold the salt int he cuts of the lemon.  This is a good time to find all the cuts, nicks, hangnails, and splinters that are in your hand.

Then jam, and I mean JAM the lemons into your mason jar.  Really push em down in there. The juice will start to come out, as you push, and as the salt draws it out.  That’s good.  Keep slicing, salting, and pushing your lemons into the jar.  You need the lemon juice to cover the top of the last lemon you can possibly squeeze in there.  You may need to pour some juice off, or add some. (I had to pour some off).  Just pack those little guys in there until you can.  See the first pic up top?  That’s what it should look like.

Close the jar, and put it in a cool place.  I used one of my cupboards.  Flip it on its lid after the first day.  Then back right side up.  Continue flipping every day for a week.  After one week, move it to the fridge.  Continue to flip for another week.  Now you can start using them.

These guys are salt magnets.  I couldn’t imagine eating them the way they are.  From what I’ve learned, you cut the flesh out of the lemon and discard it.  These are not for sweet dessert recipes that call for zest.  Only savory dishes.

Using a sharp knife, slice off as much of the pith as you can.  This leaves you a very flavorful rind.  I swear the preserved zest is even lemonnier than regular zest.  Rinse off the rind to get rid of any residual salt.

These lemons should last a lifetime.  It’s a great way to extend some of your citrus harvest, to have that great lemony flavor in the off-season without buying imported, pesticide laden, lemons.  There are a ton of recipes out there that call for preserved lemons.  Give the old google machine a try and taste some new flavors a try.

Spicy Cabbage and Jicama Slaw w/ Preserved Lemons

So we got a Jicama in our last order from Bountiful Baskets.  Not something I would usually buy, but something I am familiar with.  I wasn’t in the mood to research a recipe, so I started raiding my fridge, and sharpening knives.  This recipe is 100% original.

Spicy Cabbage and Jicama Slaw w/ Preserved Lemons.

  • 1/2 Green Cabbage
  • 1/2 Red Cabbage
  • 1 Jicama
  • 3 Large Carrots
  • 2 Green Onions
  • 1 Jalapeno
  • 2 Quarters Preserved Lemons
  • Paprika
  • Cumin
  • Apple Cider, Rice Wine, Red Wine Vinegar (any combination, I did equal parts
  • Olive Oil
  • Salt and Pepper (is it really necessary to list this?)

Slice both cabbages thinly.  Peel the jicama, and either cut into thin julienne or use a fine tooth blade on a mandolin slicer.  Do the same for the carrots.  Combine the cabbages, jicama, and carrots in a large bowl, and salt liberally.

Slice the green onions into thin rings.

Cut the jalapeño open, and remove seeds and veins.  If you’re brave, cut a thin slice to taste the jalapeño, to see just how hot it is.  Jalapenos are fickle, some are very hot, others are not.  The only way to know what you’re getting yourself in to, is to taste it.  If you’re not brave, have your wife taste it, like I did.  Dess will eat Pepperoncini out of the jar, and suicide wings by the dozen.  Our pepper was very hot.  I could by the way Dess’ face light up, and the curses she was throwing in my direction.  Based on my scientific method, I decided to use only 1/4 of the pepper.  You need to make your own decision. The pepper should add a burst of heat to the salad, not turn it in to salsa.

Cut the pepper into the thinnest strips you can muster.  Then cut those strips into tiny cubes.

Remove two 1/4’s of a preserved lemon from your jar (for directions on how to make preserved lemons, see my next entry).  Fillet off the flesh of the lemon.  Using a very sharp knife, slice off as much of the pith as possible.  Take the rind, and rinse it under cold water.  This little rind contains a massive amount of salt and lemon flavor.  Again, you want it to be a little burst of flavor, and not a citrus salt lick. Slice the rind into the thinnest strips you can muster.  Then cut those strips into tiny cubes.

Add about a teaspoon of Paprika, 1/2 t Cumin, ground pepper, the green onions, jalapeno and lemon rind to the cabbage mixture.  Add approximately 1/4 cup vinegar(s) and 2-3 tablespoons olive oil.  Toss to combine.  Adjust spices and vinegar to your taste.  I preferred more vinegar, heavier on the rice wine and cider side.

Let the salad marinate for at least 30 minutes before serving.
I found this to be a great summer salad.  The cabbage and jicama were crisp and refreshing.  The paprika, cumin, and jalapeño added the smallest amount of heat and Mexican flare.  And the preserved lemon gave it these little pockets of fresh and bright citrus notes.  This was a hit with the whole family, and will definitely be made again.


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