Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Lamb Shanks Braised in Red Wine & Napa Valley Meritage

My wife Michèle’s birthday came around recently and, among other things, I decided to whip up some lamb shanks and a white bean purée.

Regular readers will know that I’m new to cooking so, no, I haven’t tried braising lamb shanks before, or anything else for that matter. Turns out, this braising recipe is remarkably easy. I picked up 4 humongous Alberta lamb shanks from the friendly folks at Saslove (at the Market). When I was out running some errands, I (fortunately) caught an interview on CBC’s All in a Day with Michael Farber, chef at Farbs Fitchen and Wine Bar, who talked about doing venison osso bucco. He mentioned two key points in braising: first, make sure the meat is well-seared and, second, don’t put too much stock in the pot, otherwise the meat will more boil than braise. The lamb turned out very well: tender (not quite "fall off the bone") and flavourful. The red wine I used for braising was from Argentina:  Alta Vista Atemporal Assemblage 2007, a blend of Malbec, Cabernet Sauvignon, Syrah, and Petit Verdot. The white bean purée was great as well.

For a matching wine, the key here is the cooking method. Braising takes many different flavours and blends them together. Nothing really stands out, but the total effect is delicious. I also used a blend in the cooking wine. I continued with this blended theme, with a big Bordeaux-style Meritage from Napa Valley with Cabernet Sauvignon the major player at 82%. You can go big with the wine with a dish like this, making it the star of the dinner. Other options are a blend of Grenache, Syrah, and Mourvèdre from Languedoc or an Amarone.

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