Archive for November, 2011

November 27, 2011

Braised Lamb Shanks with White Beans

Braising season has definitely arrived in the Pacific NW so we decided to dust off one of our favorite braising recipes. I love lamb in general so I was immediately smitten with this dish when Mike served it to me on one of our earliest dates. I was so taken with the dish that Mike claims I didn’t speak for 10 minutes and he feared that something was wrong (alas, he couldn’t have been more wrong). That night, he actually served it over parmesan mashed potatoes but we now sometimes alternate preparing it with the white bean dish as it was originally intended. The mashed potatoes are amazing with it but the white beans give it a healthier edge.

Braised Lamb Shanks over White Beans

The recipe is originally from Gourmet Magazine. We used 2 mammoth-sized lamb shanks and otherwise scaled the proportions of the recipe in half.

Lamb Shanks:

6 lamb shanks

2-4 T. olive oil

1 large onion, chopped coarse

4-5 carrots, chopped coarse

3 ribs celery, chopped coarse

8 garlic cloves, chopped coarse

1 bottle (3 1/3 cups) Bordeaux or Cabernet wine

4 cups chicken stock

3 T. tomato paste

2 sprigs (or more) fresh thyme


3 T. chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley

Zest of 1 lemon

3 garlic cloves, minced


2 T. olive oil

2 small onions, chopped fine

2 carrots, chopped fine

2 celery, chopped fine

3 garlic cloves, minced

3 cans cooked white beans (Great Northern or Navy were recommended but we typically use and enjoy Butter Beans)

2-2 ½ cups chicken stock

2 T. unsalted butter

1 bay leaf

To FINISH:   (we’ve never done this part)

1 T. unsalted butter

1 T. chopped tarragon leaves


First things first. The recipe didn’t mention this part but I guess it’s assumed for the experienced chef. I took on the task of meat preparation that Mike normally does. After he demonstrated the process for me, I worked on removing both the fat and the “silver skin” (which lends a gristly quality to meat). The key is to remove both while removing as little meat as possible. I have to admit it took me quite a while, but these were also enormous shanks. It definitely made me appreciate Mike’s meat-cleaning skills.

Next, pat lamb shanks dry and season well with salt and pepper. In heavy Dutch oven (we use our Le Creuset) over moderately high heat, brown shanks well in batches, transferring to a plate as browned. Then add onion, carrots, celery, and garlic and sauté until onion is softened. Add wine and simmer mixture, stirring occasionally, until liquid is reduced to about 3 cups. Return lamb shanks to pot and stir in broth, tomato paste, and thyme. Bring liquid to a boil and simmer, covered, stirring and turning lamb shanks occasionally for 1 hour. Uncover the pot and simmer the shanks another 1.5-2 hours, until shanks are tender.

Lamb Shanks Braising

TO MAKE THE GREMOLATA (while lamb is cooking): In a small bowl, stir together ingredients and set aside.

TO MAKE THE BEANS while lamb is cooking. In a saucepan, heat oil over moderately high heat until hot but not smoking and cook onions, carrots, celery, and garlic, stirring for 2-3 minutes or until softened. Add beans, 2 cups broth, butter, and bay leaf and cook over moderate heat, stirring occasionally and adding enough broth to keep beans moist and to reach a creamy consistency, about 45 minutes. Discard bay leaf and add half of gremolata and salt and pepper to taste.

White Beans Simmering with Veggies

TO SERVE: Place serving of beans in a shallow bowl, top with shanks and vegetables, then sauce from shanks. Finally, sprinkle with gremolata.

Lamb is Served!

November 14, 2011

Chipotle Quinoa and Shrimp

This was a surprisingly good dish that I made the other day for Margie, who had been wanting to incorporate more quinoa into our diet.  Quinoa is a very healthy grain-like seed and often times is treated a lot like rice in how it is prepared.  Having not been a huge fan of quinoa with my first few encounters with it, I was very skeptical.  With good seasoning and ingredients such as this recipe, this turned out really well and we both agreed that we should make this again soon.

I originally came across the recipe on another blog, Karma Cucina, and had to try it myself.

Chipotle Quinoa and Shrimp

Serves 4


For the shrimp and marinade:

16 peeled jumbo shrimp

1/4 cup loosely packed cilantro leaves, roughly chopped

1 clove garlic, minced

1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil

1 Tbsp. seeded jalapeno pepper, minced

1/2 tsp. sea salt

1/4 tsp. fresh ground pepper

For the quinoa:

3 Tbsp. extra virgin olive oil

2 cloves garlic, minced

1 Tbsp. seeded jalapeno pepper, minced

1 medium onion, chopped

2 – 4 canned chipotle chilies, minced, with some of their adobo sauce

1 Tbsp. dried oregano

1/4 tsp. cumin

3/4 cup quinoa, rinsed and drained

Salt* and pepper to taste

1 can black beans, rinsed and drained

1/2 cup frozen corn kernels

1 1/2 cups vegetable or chicken stock

3/4 cup loosely packed cilantro leaves, roughly chopped

1 avocado, skin and pit removed, cubed

Lime wedges


Combine the shrimp and marinade ingredients in a large resealable plastic bag.  Seal tightly and work the mixture around with your hands until well combined.  Refrigerate for 30 minutes.

In the meantime, pour olive oil into a medium sized pot over medium heat.  Add garlic, jalapeno, and onion and cook 5 minutes or until everything has softened.  Add chipotle chilies and adobo sauce, oregano, and cumin and cook for an additional minute.  Turn the heat up to medium high and add the quinoa, salt, and pepper.  Toss around and coat evenly for 3 – 5 minutes.

Add the beans, corn, and stock, bring to a boil, cover, and reduce heat.  Simmer for 15 minutes.  Remove the lid and test the quinoa for doneness. When the quinoa is fully cooked, it will be tender and look like a semi-transparent globule with a cream colored orbit or curly string hanging off.   If it’s not quite there yet in appearance and is still a little crunchy, add a bit more stock, cover, and simmer for another few minutes.

Once done, remove from heat, stir in cilantro leaves, cover and set aside.

Heat a large skillet over high heat.  Add shrimp and sear for approximately 2 minutes on each side or until the flesh is completely opaque.

Place a mound of quinoa on each dish and top with shrimp and avocado.  Serve with lime wedges.