Growing up with Chinese/Vietnamese food, I have not had much exposure to French cuisine and the slow cooking/braising/stewing style of cooking where you cook something for hours so that the meat is so tender it falls off the bone.
On the weekend I made my very first lamb ragout. I have only cooked lamb once before when I made some Moroccan grilled lamb cutlets. I adapted a recipe from the Gourmet Traveller. I also made some root mash to go with the ragout and the addition of Dijon mustard gave the mash a really nice flavour.
For the Ragout
• Olive oil
• 3 lamb shanks
• 1 carrot, coarsely chopped
• 1 brown onion, coarsely chopped
• 1 celery, coarsely chopped
• 3 garlic cloves, coarsely chopped
• 1 tablespoon tomato paste
• 3 tomatoes, coarsely chopped
• 2 fresh bay leaves
• 1 sprig fresh thyme
• 1 sprig rosemary
• 3 black peppercorns
• 200ml red wine
• 100ml dry white wine
• 1.5 litres hot chicken stock
• some chopped parsley for garnish
Preheat the oven to 150C.
Heat some olive oil in a large casserole over medium-high heat. Season shanks with salt and pepper and cook, turning occasionally, until golden/browned and all sides of the meat are sealed (5-7 minutes). Remove shanks and set aside.
Add some more olive oil to the casserole, reduce heat to medium, then add carrot, onion, celery and garlic, sauté until just starting to colour (5-7 minutes).
Add tomato paste, sauté until paste darkens (1-2 minutes), then add tomato, bouquet qarni of bay leaves, thyme and rosemary, peppercorns and wines, cook until slightly reduced (5-7 minutes).
Add stock and lamb shanks, cover with foil and roast until shanks are tender and falling from the bone (3-4hours). Remove the shanks from braising liquid.
Spoon some of the braising liquid into a small saucepan to make a sauce to go on top of the shanks - season with some salt, pepper and sugar to taste, and use some cornflour mixed with water to thicken.
For the Root Mash
• 3 carrots
• 1 jumbo celeriac
• 3 potatoes
• ~ 50g butter
• 1-2 teaspoons of Dijon mustard
• ½ - 1 cup hot milk
• small grating of nutmeg
• salt and pepper to taste
Peel all the vegetables and chop into 3cm pieces. Place in a large pot and cover with cold water, add some salt and bring to boil, then simmer for 20-25 minutes or until the vegetables are fork tender.
Drain the vegetables and return them to the pot over low heat to dry out. Then remove the vegetables from the pot and out them into another bowl. Use a potato masher to mash the vegetables back into the pot, then add some butter, Dijon mustard, milk, salt, pepper and nutmeg. Stir together until the milk has absorbed into the mash, the butter has melted and you achieve your desired taste and consistency.
Place some root mash onto a plate, put a lamb shank on top and spoon over the shank some of the braising sauce, garnish with a little parsley. Blanch some strings beans to go on the side.