Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Slow Cooker Braised Lamb Shanks

For a man-pleasing meal, start with lamb shanks and braise them in the slow cooker, filling the house with a savory welcome-home. The meat will practically fall off the bones and the sauce is silky smooth. Hello, long fall nights by the fire ...

Slow Cooker Braised Lamb Shanks with a silky-smooth sauce made from the braising liquid and vegetables.

So when was it, exactly, when I promised to cook my way through an entire lamb. A year ago? two? three? maybe even four? Acck, the time does fly. The freezer remains full of meat so I'm re-committing myself to that promise.

First up, lamb shanks.

So what are shanks, exactly? Well, a "shank" is the upper portion of a lamb's leg, from the knee up to the abdomen, say. Aha! Now that we know "where" the shank is, we also know that lamb shanks are bony with relatively little meat and that the meat is muscular. Once we know this, we know that the meat is relatively tough, and that means, slow cooking whether in a slow cooker / crockpot or in the oven.

CAUTION! BLENDERS & HOT LIQUIDS Always take great caution when blending hot liquids in a blender or a food processor. The safest thing? Let the liquid cool before processing. Next best, just work slowly and carefully, here's how I do it.

Work in batches, filling the blender no more than a quarter full each time.
For extra care, place a towel over the lid.
Hold the lid carefully with one hand while turning the blender on low speed with the other.
The pressure from inside the blender will try to lift the lid, some times you can lift your hand, just a bit, to release a small amount of pressure, almost like burping a baby.
The pressure gets stronger with each batch, I think that's because the blender container itself heats up from the hot liquid.
ALANNA's TIPS To avoid the stringiness that can happen in a sauce with celery, either pull off the celery's strings away before chopping or just omit them from the sauce entirely. No red wine? Use another liquid like apple cider or even more stock. If you have time, let the braising liquid cool in the refrigerator for a few hours before puréeing. This lets the fat rise to the top so that it can be easily removed and discarded. Is anyone noticing how specific my recipes are becoming about seasoning? My weekly column in the St. Louis Post-Dispatch puts me in the city's top restaurant kitchen about once a week, learning from top chefs. My latest revelation, this time from The Crossing, one of the city's fine-dining restaurants? The importance of seasoning a dish at every stage, just a little, rather than only at the end.
Kitchen Parade is written by second-generation food columnist Alanna Kellogg and features fresh, seasonal dishes for every-day healthful eating and occasional indulgences. Quick Suppers are Kitchen Parade favorites and feature recipes easy on the budget, the clock, the waistline and the dishwasher. Do you have a favorite recipe that other Kitchen Parade readers might like? Just send me a quick e-mail via recipes@kitchen-parade.com. How to print a Kitchen Parade recipe. Never miss a recipe! If you like this recipe, sign up for a free e-mail subscription. If you like Kitchen Parade, you're sure to like my food blog about vegetable recipes, too, A Veggie Venture. Follow Kitchen Parade on Facebook!

SLOW COOKER BRAISED LAMB SHANKS

Real Food. Low Cal. Low Carb. Weight Watchers Friendly. Gluten Free. Paleo. Primal.
Hands-on time: 20 minutes to start, 10 minutes to finish
Time to table: About 4 hours
Makes about 8 lamb shanks and six cups sauce
    LAMB SHANKS
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 3 pounds lamb shanks (about 8 shanks), visible fat removed, patted dry
  • Salt & pepper to taste
    VEGETABLES
  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 2 carrots, peeled and chopped
  • 2 ribs celery, trimmed and chopped
  • 3 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 15 ounces canned diced tomatoes
  • Salt & pepper to taste
    BRAISING LIQUID
  • 1 cup red wine
  • 2 cups lamb stock or beef stock
  • 2 tablespoons tomato paste
  • Salt & pepper to taste

Set slow cooker to "high".

LAMB SHANKS In a large skillet, heat olive oil until shimmery on medium high. Add lamb shanks and season with salt and pepper, then cook without moving until that side browns, then turn and repeat on all sides.

VEGETABLES While the lamb shanks brown, collect vegetables in the bottom of the slow cooker. Sprinkle with salt and pepper.

BRAISING LIQUID Once the shanks are brown, arrange on top of the vegetables in a single layer, meatier side down, tilting if need be to fit the slow cooker. Add red wine to the hot skillet (it will sizzle!) and "deglaze" the pan by scraping up the "fond" (the brown bits of meat left in the bottom of the skillet). Add the stock, tomato paste, salt and pepper and bring to a boil. Pour liquid over the vegetables and lamb shanks, the shank should be partially submerged.

SLOW COOKER on HIGH Cook on high for about 3 hours or until the meat easily releases from the bone but doesn't "fall off" the bone.

SLOW COOKER on LOW Cook on low for 6 - 8 hours (this is the typical range for slow cooker, I prefer the higher temperature).

SAUCE Lift shanks out of the slow cooker and set aside. Puree liquid and vegetables in a blender until smooth. IMPORTANT!! See safety instructions on the left, we don't want hot liquid spewing all over you and your kitchen!

TO SERVE On each plate, pool a few spoonfuls of sauce, top with a lamb shank, then drizzle with more sauce.

MAKE-AHEAD Refrigerate the shanks and the sauce separately until about a half hour before serving. Gently warm the sauce and shanks in a deep skillet, spooning sauce over the shanks every few minutes. Serve when hot.

NUTRITION INFORMATION Per Serving, assumes 8 servings, about 3 ounces of cooked lamb meat plus 3/4 cups sauce: 311 Calories; 17g Tot Fat; 7g Sat Fat; 88mg Cholesterol; 228mg Sodium; 9g Carb; 2g Fiber; 4g Sugar; 26g Protein. WEIGHT WATCHERS POINTS WW Old Points 7 & WW Points Plus 7.
Adapted from Williams-Sonoma.

This Week, Years Past 2002 - 2012

Chicken Cider Stew Mashed Sweet Potatoes Roasted Sweet Potatoes Turkey Sweet Potato Soup Creamy Wild Rice Soup Acorn Squash with Quinoa & Cherries Weeknight-Easy Rolls No-Knead English Muffin Bread Lamb with Lemon & Oregano Snickers Cookies on Sticks (or NOT) Easy-Easy Pear Sauce

This Week, Elsewhere

Chicken Chardonnay from Surf & Sirloin
~ more St. Louis Restaurant Recipes ~
My Column in the St. Louis Post-Dispatch

Raw Brussels Sprouts Salad
~ more Recent Recipes ~
A Veggie Venture


Cooking Your Way Through a Whole Lamb

(hover for a description, click a photo for a recipe)
Perfect Lamb Chops Lamb Roast with Lemon & Oregano Lamb with Sweet Tomato Jam
~ more lamb recipes ~

Shop Your Pantry First

(helping home cooks save money on groceries)





© Copyright 2013 Kitchen Parade



Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Happy Canadian Thanksgiving!

Happy Thanksgiving to my Canadian family and the many Canadian readers and visitors who pop into Kitchen Parade and A Veggie Venture for Thanksgiving recipes! May your long weekend be filled with "good times" and "good food"!

Turkey Sweet Potato Soup, a healthy, colorful soup made with sweet potatoes and leftover turkey. Perfect for after Thanksgiving! From Kitchen Parade.

If I could bring everyone a dish of the World's Best Green Bean Casserole, I would, I really would! But for anyone still on the hunt for recipes, two places to visit:

The famous collection of Favorite Recipes for Thanksgiving's Favorite Vegetables at A Veggie Venture

An eleven-year collection of Thanksgiving recipes at Kitchen Parade

For those who don't eat meat, ideas for Thanksgiving Vegetarian Entrées

(Oh! I'm suddenly tempted to cook a turkey this weekend!) But when it's all over and you're wondering how to use up the last of the turkey, think "soup" – in fact, think "healthy soup"!

Turkey Sweet Potato Soup is one of my oldest recipes, a healthy colorful soup made with sweet potatoes and leftover turkey. It's like a bowlful of fall color! And it's extra easy to make, there's no need to sauté the onion and celery before adding the rest of the ingredients. Just chop 'em up and cook 'em!

Happy Thanksgiving, all!






© Copyright 2013 Kitchen Parade



Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Microwave Green Chili Cheese Grits

Wherein a northerner shares two southern secrets: the quickest, easiest and tastiest way to cook grits. I'm willing to bet: you already own this "secret tool" and your fridge is home to the "secret ingredient". Just check, am I right? Try these secrets on your own favorite grits recipe. Or try my latest, a southwest-style pot of grits with a touch of green chili and a touch of cheese, low in calories but full of flavor.

Learn the two southern secrets for the quickest, easiest, tastiest way to cook grits. The techniques will work on your own recipe or try mine, the full-flavored but low-calorie Microwave Green Chili Cheese Grits

“Try the shrimp ‘n’ grits every chance you get,” recommended our friend Mary when she heard we were heading for the Carolina coast. “Every restaurant makes them different.”

Four big plates of creamy grits with fresh shrimp later – over about 28 hours! – we were smitten. Our favorite was a creamy plate of breakfast shrimp and grits, all about the shrimp cloaked with a silky sauce. Determined to create our very own “house recipe” for shrimp ‘n grits, we picked up the Shrimp and Grits Cookbook by Nathalie Dupree in Charleston.

Her book offered two grits tips that proved life-changing, grits-wise anyhow.

Funny though, the tips were presented as casual one-liners, almost throw-aways, the way you might mention something that every southerner already knows.

But let it be known, there are two secrets for the quickest, easiest and tastiest way to cook grits. No throw-aways here! Take note!

HALF MILK - HALF WATER Grits turn out extra-creamy when they’re cooked in half water and half milk. Worth knowing! Even a small portion of milk makes a big difference. Evaporated milk works great too.
MICROWAVE GRITS Grits cook really well in the microwave, even stone-ground grits. This is totally worth knowing, especially if like me, you have experience, twice, of stirring-stirring-stirring big pots of grits for more than an hour.

ABOUT STONE-GROUND GRITS Quick-cooking grits are easy to find, my grocery store even carries a house brand that competes with Quaker. But I do much prefer the stone-ground grits for texture, flavor and “real food” values. I have great luck with Bob’s Red Mill grits found in many grocery stores and also buy stone-ground grits from War Eagle Mill in Arkansas, very good stuff! Do store stone-ground grits in the fridge or even the freezer, otherwise, they’ll go rancid quite quickly.

FUNNY STORY On our drive to Florida's Emerald Coast in July, we timed our trip to stop for a week's worth of fresh fruits and vegetables at a farmers market east of Montgomery, Alabama. We stocked up, for sure! But our most memorable purchase was stone-ground grits from Oakview Farms. Feeling all knowledgable, I asked if the grits were this year's crop. "This year's crop?" the vendor scoffed back. "They are yesterday's crop." Mighty fine grits, those from Oakview Farms.

Kitchen Parade is written by second-generation food columnist Alanna Kellogg and features fresh, seasonal dishes for every-day healthful eating and occasional indulgences. Quick Suppers are Kitchen Parade favorites and feature recipes easy on the budget, the clock, the waistline and the dishwasher. Do you have a favorite recipe that other Kitchen Parade readers might like? Just send me a quick e-mail via recipes@kitchen-parade.com. How to print a Kitchen Parade recipe. Never miss a recipe! If you like this recipe, sign up for a free e-mail subscription. If you like Kitchen Parade, you're sure to like my food blog about vegetable recipes, too, A Veggie Venture. Follow Kitchen Parade on Facebook!

MICROWAVE GREEN CHILI CHEESE GRITS

Real Food. Vegetarian. Low Cal. Low Carb. Weight Watchers Friendly. Gluten Free.
Hands-on time: 10 minutes plus occasional attention
Time to table: 30 minutes
Makes 3 cups
  • 1 cup (160g) stone-ground grits (see TIPS)
  • 1-1/2 cups (360g) low-fat milk
  • 1-1/2 cups (360g) water
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/2 cup (50g) grated cheese (see TIPS)
  • 1 teaspoon cumin
  • 1 teaspoon oregano
  • 1/2 teaspoon garlic salt
  • 4 ounces canned mild green chilies (see TIPS)
  • Green onion, for garnish, optional

Combine grits, milk, water and salt in a large microwave-safe bowl. (I use a 4-cup Pyrex liquid measure but something bigger would work better to prevent the grits from spilling over.)

Microwave for 10 – 15 minutes, giving the grits a good stir every 2 minutes, especially near the end. Watch carefully, you don’t want these to spill over!

Stir in cheese until it melts, then add spices and chilies.

Transfer to a serving bowl, sprinkle with green onion and serve immediately.

MAKE-AHEAD Better yet, cook the grits now and serve them later! This is a favorite make-ahead side dish, grits rewarm beautifully in the microwave and keep for several days. You really can’t tell that the grits have been made ahead of time! You may want to add extra liquid to loosen the grits when reheating.

ALANNA’s TIPS My Auntie Karen gave me this recipe, she uses quick-cooking grits – note that's "quick" grits but not "instant" grits – and cooks the grits in a saucepan on the stovetop with 2-1/4 cups water. I once had some quick grits on hand so tried cooking 1 cup quick grits with 3 cups half-water and half-milk in the microwave: it worked fine. For cheese, I’ve used smoked Gouda, a “Mexican” grated cheese mix, cheddar even none at all! No chilies on hand? Not excited about the added small measure of heat? Skip the green chilies entirely. Want to move grits toward tomatoes? Stir in few spoonfuls of marinara or the Tomato Gravy from Skillet Burgers with Tomato Gravy.

GREEN CHILI CHEESE GRITS in the SLOW COOKER Last year, I started cooking grits in the slow cooker. It takes two to three hours and the grits must be stirred to minimize sticking but still, the grits turn out just beautifully. I have converted (and tested, you know I test-test-test all my recipes, right?!) this microwave recipe for the slow cooker, see, Slow Cooker Green Chili Cheese Grits, an adaptation of this recipe and my recipe for Slow Cooker Sweet Potato (or Pumpkin or Butternut Squash) Grits.

NUTRITION INFORMATION Per quarter cup/half cup: 63/127 Calories; 2/4g Tot Fat; 1/2g Sat Fat; 5/10mg Cholesterol; 256/512mg Sodium; 9/18g Carb; 1/2g Fiber; 0g Sugar; 2/5g Protein. WEIGHT WATCHERS POINTS WW Old Points 1/2.5, WW PointsPlus 2/3 CALORIE COUNTERS 1/3 cup = 100 calories.
Adapted from a recipe from my dear, much-loved Auntie Karen.

This Week, Years Past 2002 - 2012

Cheese Gnocchi Pie Cheery Cherry Banana Bread Spiced Yogurt Chicken Apple Cider Indian Pudding Baked Apples Naturally Sweetened Apple Butter Hamburger Soup I Heart Food Blogs Moroccan Onions Homemade Kabocha Squash "Pumpkin" Purée Easy Baked Oatmeal with Apples & Walnuts (<< look at all the apple recipes! pumpkin too!)

This Week, Elsewhere

Cuban Sandwich from City Diner
~ more St. Louis Restaurant Recipes ~
My Column in the St. Louis Post-Dispatch

Pumpkin Bars
~ more Recent Recipes ~
A Veggie Venture


More Perfect-for-Fall Recipes for Grits & Cornmeal

(hover for a description, click a photo for a recipe)
Slow Cooker Sweet Potato Grits (or Pumpkin Grits or Butternut Squash Grits) Greens & Grits Seared Scallops with Chimichurri and Garlicky Polenta
Skillet Cornbread Simple Cast Iron Southern Corn Bread Savory Cornbread Muffins
~ more grits recipes ~
~ more cornmeal recipes ~
~ more polenta recipes ~ from Kitchen Parade

Shop Your Pantry First

(helping home cooks save money on groceries)





© Copyright 2013, 2014, 2015 Kitchen Parade