Sunday's are the perfect day to put a pot in the oven all afternoon and let it ruminate so you can enjoy the aroma and anticpate the outcome. Last night's effort had both of us groaning and moaning in delight...I'm not kidding either.
Inspired by a Gourmet magazine recipe via epicurious.com (hit the link and see the original), I used lamb shanks and meaty neck bones combined with red onion, garlic, tomotoes both canned and sundried as well as celery, mushrooms and fennel in another example of the perfect braise. Flavored with thyme and spiced up with red pepper flakes, the surprise in this one is the addition of bourbon and I'm not talking a tablespoon or two either.
Don't worry, I didn't use the Knob Creek but I sure hit the Maker's Mark bottle pretty hard. A few more ingredients and after 3 hours on ignore in the oven, the fall off the bone tender meat left the pot while the sauce got a little more attention. Hey, I messed up and didn't check the pot during the cooking time so there wasn't much sauce left.
It was just an excuse to crank it up a notch by adding more bourbon and chicken stock, a little tomato paste to improve the color, a little more stock and some heavy cream. I can't imagine anything better which proves that sometimes a screw-up is the best thing that can happen. Served on a bed of little potato gnocchi dumplings dressed with butter and parmesan cheese, the bourbon taste is definitely there but not overpowering and the addition of cream adds another dimension to the sauce as well.
As you know, we're really into flavor in this house and while there's a lot of pretty darn tasty things coming out of JBug's Kitchen I can usually find something wrong but not this time. To steal a quote from a fellow blogger, it's so good it made my socks go up and down!
Lamb Shank Ragu (from JBug’s Kitchen inspired by Gourmet via epicurious.com)
1 pound lamb neck bones as well as 2 lamb shanks, OR 4 lamb shanks (2 pounds total)
Salt and coarse ground black pepper
4 tablespoons olive oil, divided
1 cup chopped red onion
3 garlic cloves, chopped
1/2 cup drained diced canned tomatoes
2 tablespoons chopped sundried tomatoes
2 stalks celery, chopped
4 large white mushrooms, chopped (about 1/2 cup)
1/4 cup chopped fennel bulb
1 teaspoon dried thyme
1/2 teaspoon hot red pepper flakes
Coarse ground black pepper
1-1/2 cups bourbon (divided)
4 cups chicken stock (divided) and more as needed
1/2 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
1 teaspoon soy sauce
1 teaspoon honey
2 tablespoon tomato paste
2 tablespoons flour (I used instant blending flour)
1/3 cup cream
Heat oil in heavy Dutch oven (I used cast iron) over medium high heat until oil is shimmering. Meanwhile wash and dry lamb and season well with salt and pepper. Brown well on all sides (about 8 minutes total). Remove from pot and set aside. Meanwhile preheat oven to 350.
Add onion, garlic, canned and sundried tomatoes, celery, mushrooms, fennel, thyme and red pepper flakes to pot. Season well with black pepper. Cook, stirring often until vegetables are softened – about 5 minutes. Add 1 cup bourbon, 3 cups chicken stock, vinegar, Worcestershire sauce, soy sauce, and honey to the pot. Stir well to combine. Return browned lamb to the pot, bring to a boil, cover and place in preheated 350 oven for 3 hours or until meat is very tender. Check pot towards the end of the cooking time and add additional stock as needed to keep ingredients from burning. When meat is falling off the bone tender, remove from the pot and discard bones. Set meat aside. Combine flour with remaining 1/2 cup bourbon and add to sauce in the pot. Add tomato paste and stir until sauce has thickened and come to a boil. Add more chicken stock as required for a medium thick consistency and boil for 2 to 3 minutes. Remove from heat and return meat to the pot. Stir in heavy cream. Serve over gnocchi, pasta or polenta. Makes 4 servings.
A year ago - Beef and Pepper Panini Sandwiches
Two year's ago - Orange Chicken