Posts Tagged 'lamb'

Red-Cooked Lamb Shanks

Tomorrow is the Chinese New Year. The Year of the Snake is somewhat less auspicious – a symbol that is sometimes hard to warm up to. And fittingly this Year of the Snake begins with a blizzard in the Northeast, power outages, and extreme weather. Even I, in the Inland Northwest, woke up to snow. So clearly this New Year needs to begin with a hearty dish that will keep you warm as you celebrate. This recipe for red-cooked lamb shanks is taken from a recipe for red-cooked leg of lamb. But as I have mentioned before, I love lamb shanks… the closer to the bone, the sweeter the meat.

Red-cooking is a Chinese slow-braising technique that is particularly good for tougher cuts of meat. It is a technique popular throughout most of northern, eastern, and southeastern China. The name comes from the dark red-brown color of the meat and sauce. This recipe is not as deep red, as I used reduced sodium soy sauce instead of black soy sauce (you can use black soy sauce if you have it) to make the shanks a bit healthier. Also, these shanks are best made ahead so that you can chill the braising liquid and remove any fat before finishing the sauce.

Despite their potential for deliciousness, lamb shanks are bony and fatty when you first get them.
red cooked lanb shank
You don’t have to do anything about the bones – that is what is going to make the shanks so succulent when you eat them.  But you do need to remove every bit of fat that you can, and any tough, thin membrane as well. The four lamb shanks yielded almost one pound of trimmed fat and membrane.
red cooked lamb trimmings
Red-Cooked Lamb Shanks

Cooking spray
4 lamb shanks, about 12 ounces each
2 teaspoons minced garlic
1 cup reduced sodium soy sauce
1 cup dry sherry (not cooking sherry)
1 teaspoon sugar
1 teaspoon crushed dried red chili pepper
2 whole star anise
additional water to cover, if needed
1 teaspoon cornstarch
1 teaspoon cold water
¼ teaspoon sesame oil

Trim the lamb shanks of all fat and membrane, and make small gashes all over them. Rub the shanks with the garlic. Spray a large Dutch oven with cooking spray (I used my big covered wok) and heat over high heat. Add the shanks to the pan and brown them on all sides – about 10 minutes.  Mix the braising liquid (soy sauce, sherry, sugar, pepper, star anise) together.
red cooked lamb ingredients
Pour over the lamb shanks. If necessary, add enough water to just cover the shanks.  Bring to a boil, cover, reduce heat and simmer 2½  hours, turning shanks occasionally or until shanks are tender. Keep an eye on them. I had to add a bit more water to keep them from drying out…so check the liquid level when you turn the shanks. When the shanks are done, remove them to a platter.
red cooked lamb platter 2
Pour braising liquid into a container. Refrigerate lamb and braising liquid separately. When liquid has chilled and fat hardened on the surface, remove the fat and discard it. Reheat the shanks in the braising liquid. Remove shanks and keep warm.  Measure out 1 cup of the braising liquid, (discard the rest) and bring the one cup of liquid to a simmer. Stir the cornstarch and water together in a small bowl and mix it into the liquid. Cook the sauce, stirring, until it is thickened. Stir in the sesame oil, and pour the sauce over the shanks.  Makes 4 servings at about 8 grams of fat/serving
red cooked lamb served 2
I served them over a brown rice mixture, with lightly stir-fried vegetables on the side.


Classic Lamb Curry

I have been terribly remiss about posting to Perpetual Feast. It’s not that I haven’t been cooking, photographing, and yes, eating over the past many months, it’s just that I haven’t had time to write about what I have been cooking, photographing and eating.  I have been trying to sell my house and buy another one across the country, both life-enveloping and time-consuming tasks. But I have folders full of recipes to clean out, both on my computer and at my desk.  So, in the interests of cleaning my desk (and desktop) I am going to make an effort to post regularly.

It has been miserably cold and snowy here in the inland Northwest. Although the snow on the ground is beautiful looking out over the countryside, the temperature hasn’t topped 30 degrees in weeks, descending to single digits (extra socks weather) some nights.  This lamb curry, originally from Cooking Light, was a substantial and warming meal. It isn’t terribly hot, so if you like your curries incendiary, you can add some chilies or more red pepper when you are sautéing the spices.  I first served the curry with store-bought naan – with non-fat yogurt and some spicy lime pickle.
classic lamb curry served
I have since eaten it over rice, and today, trying to use up what’s in the refrigerator, over leftover boiled potatoes (better than it sounds). The curry freezes well, and if you feel like you want a bigger serving, you can add some peas or green beans to it when you’re reheating the leftovers.

Classic Lamb Curry

Cooking spray
2 pounds boneless leg of lamb, trimmed of all fat and cut into 1-inch pieces
1 teaspoon vegetable oil
1 1/2 cups chopped onion
5 whole cloves
3 cardamom pods
2 bay leaves
1 (3-inch) cinnamon stick
1 tablespoon ground coriander seeds
1 tablespoon paprika
2 tablespoons minced peeled fresh ginger (I used bottled)
2 teaspoons Garam Masala (I used Spice Islands)
1/2 teaspoon ground red pepper
1/2 teaspoon ground turmeric
2 garlic cloves, minced
2 cups finely chopped plum tomato (about 1/2 pound) (see note)
1 1/2 cups water
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup chopped fresh cilantro, divided

Ingredients waiting for cooking

Ingredients waiting for cooking

Coat a large nonstick skillet coated with cooking spray and heat over medium-high heat. Add lamb, and cook for 5 minutes on all sides or until browned. Remove lamb from pan. Add the oil to the pan and heat over medium-high heat. Add onion and next 4 ingredients (onion through cinnamon); cook for 4 minutes or until onion is browned. Stir in coriander and next 6 ingredients (coriander through garlic); cook 1 minute.
classic lamb curry saute
Add lamb, tomato, water, and salt; bring to a boil. Cover, reduce heat, and simmer 1 1/2 hours or until the lamb is tender.
classic lamb curry cooking
Stir in 1/4 cup cilantro. Serve and sprinkle with remaining 1/4 cup cilantro (I actually stirred all the cilantro in at the end, since I knew I was going to freeze the leftovers.) Makes 4 servings at 11 grams of fat/serving

NOTE: It was too snowy to go out and get tomatoes at the grocery, so I used an available can of diced tomatoes, drained and chopped in the food processor. It worked out great.

SECOND NOTE: I thought it was strange to cook with whole bay leaves, cloves, etc. After the curry was cooked, I pulled these whole spices out and discarded them so no one would bite into one by mistake. The recipe didn’t say to do so, but you should.

YET ANOTHER NOTE: You could also make this recipe with buffalo or with skinless chicken parts, lowering the fat accordingly.

What To Do with Leftover Eggplant

The previous recipe for Lamb-Stuffed Eggplant said to hollow out the eggplant, and discard the centers. This seemed very wasteful to me. And I am sure that my good Mumbai housewife friends would be horrified at the thought of wasting all that good eggplant meat. Frugality – or rather who was most frugal in tending home and family – was a frequent topic of conversation. In late afternoon on our way back from the open air market across the railroad tracks, we would gather in Mrs. Bidikar’s ground floor corner apartment…the one with the best view from which to see and comment on passers-by on Goregoan Road. Sandals left outside the door and saris draped comfortably around us, we drank sugary, hot black tea boiled with milk and spices – the original chai – and we would share the contents of our market baskets, discuss prices and which merchant was honest or a thief. Women would regale one another with how they used every bit of the produce to stretch their husband’s salaries. One confided that she was more frugal than another – using even the stems of cauliflower or finding a use for potato skins. So wasting the interiors of eggplants – I think not.

Being of equally frugal bent, while the stuffed eggplants were baking, I chopped up an onion and the innards of the eggplant, and sautéed them in a frying pan sprayed with olive oil cooking spray.  I sprinkled them with dried herbs – marjoram, thyme, and chervil – but any combination of your liking would do, and added a bit of garlic.  I cooked the mixture down until the eggplant and onions were quite soft.  At this point, I could have tossed the mixture into a food processor and made a nice eggplant dip, adding  bit of salt and pepper, or maybe even a spoonful or two of nonfat yogurt.  But I really didn’t need dip, and I was in the mood for something warm. So I put the mixture into the refrigerator to keep until I had more time.

The next day, I decided to make a casserole similar to moussaka, the Greek eggplant and lamb dish.  I had 3 ounces of ground lamb left, so I browned it and added it to the eggplant mixture (I think you could also make this meatless).  I crumbled about 2 ounces of fat free feta cheese into the mixture, added about ¼ cup of fat free half and half, and 1/4 – 1/2 cup of egg substitute.  I poured the whole thing into a baking dish sprayed with cooking spray and baked it at 350 for one hour.

eggplant casserole pan

This made 6  servings at about 2 grams of fat/serving.

eggplant casserole plate

And I didn’t waste any eggplant. The women of Goregaon Road would be proud of me.

Eggplant Stuffed with Lamb

I have a lovely cookbook “Healthy Indian Cooking”, which was published in England and has measurements in milliliters and the like – fortunately translated into our more familiar teaspoon and cup measures. It has charming turns of phrase, where eggplants are aubergines and zucchini are courgettes. It also has some translational hilarity, where one recipe tells you to make sure the cod pieces are well-coated in spices (look it up to find the giggles if it doesn’t make sense to you).

Indian cooking as I learned it many years ago always started with large amounts of oil to cook the inevitable onions, garlic, and spices that made the “gravy” of curries. The authors of this book use much the same methods as I do to make their recipes low fat. They cut the amount of fat down, and use very lean cuts of meat. In cooking their recipes, I have often cut the fat even further by using cooking spray and “sweating” the onions rather than cooking them in fat, or using a teaspoon rather than a tablespoon of fat.

The weather has turned unseasonably cold (is weather ever seasonable – but 17 degrees in early October is just plain wrong.) Cold weather has me thinking of turning on the oven to get warm. After baking several loaves of banana bread, I decided to find a baked Indian dish to make with the eggplant I just bought. This dish is quite festive looking. I recommend that you grind your own lamb, either in a meat grinder (more on meat grinding in a later post) or in the food processor. Don’t over process, though. You want lamb burger, not lamb pate. This dish also mixes a lot of vegetables in with the meat, making the dish not as heavy as lamb dishes can be.  Also, it is not very spicy in terms of heat – not all Indian food is. But you could add a chili pepper or some cayenne pepper to heat it up.

Aubergines Stuffed with Lamb (That’s Eggplant to you)

Cooking spray
2 medium eggplants
1 teaspoon canola oil
1 medium onion, cut in half and sliced vertically
1 teaspoon grated ginger
1 teaspoon chili powder
1 teaspoon minced garlic
1/4 teaspoon ground turmeric
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon ground coriander
1 medium tomato, chopped
12 ounces of lean leg of lamb, ground
1 medium green pepper seeded and coarsely chopped
1 medium orange or red pepper seeded and coarsely chopped
2 Tablespoons chopped fresh coriander (cilantro)

stuffed eggplantingredients

Stuffed eggplant ingredients

Preheat the oven to 350. Spray a baking pan large enough to hold the eggplant halves with cooking spray. Cut the eggplants in half and scoop out most of the flesh, leaving enough shell to hold the filling. (More about what to do with the eggplant innards shortly.)  Be careful not to pierce the shell. Spray the outside of the shells with cooking spray.

stuffed eggplant shells

Spray a large saucepan (or wok in my case) with cooking spray. Add the oil and heat over medium high heat. Add the onions and fry until golden brown.  Don’t let them burn. Gradually add the ginger, chili powder, garlic, turmeric, salt and ground coriander (I mixed them together in a small bowl before I started cooking). Add the chopped tomato. Lower the heat to medium low and stir-fry for about 5 minutes.  Add the ground lamb and continue to stir-fry for 7-10 minutes, or until the lamb is no longer pink. Add the chopped peppers and chopped coriander to the lamb mixture and cook for 5 minutes more.  Spoon the lamb mixture into the shells and spray the outer edges of the shells with a little cooking spray.

stuffed eggplant pan

Bake until the eggplant has softened and the top of filling has browned.  The recipe said that this would take about 25 minutes, but mine took almost an hour.  I think maybe the eggplants I bought were larger than the British ones.

stuffed eggplant plate

Serve on a bed of plain rice.  This makes 4 servings at about 8 grams of fat/serving.

Variation: When I ate this, the eggplant was a little hard to tackle, although it looked really nice. So I wound up cutting the stuffed eggplant into pieces and mixing it with the rice. I wonder if you could just chop an eggplant and mix it in with the filling and bake it like a casserole?

NOTE: I couldn’t find this exact cookbook, by Shehzad Husain and Manisha Kanani on Amazon. I got it at Costco quite a while ago.  But there were similar books by these authors, written both singularly and together.

Spice-Coated Lamb Roast

I had a small, butterflied leg of lamb that was called “grill-ready” which is what I intended to do with it.  But the weather is back in the too hot zone, and I haven’t had the energy to take the gas cylinders to be filled. Besides, I think there are yellow jackets living in the compartment where the cylinder goes, and although it would be satisfying to light the grill and incinerate them, I don’t want to incur their wrath by replacing the cylinder.

So since I was smoking a large amount of pork tenderloin in the smoker Saturday, I thought that I might as well smoke the lamb, too.  I wanted to do something interesting with it, so I made a rub that vaguely resembles Tandoori (Indian spices in yogurt) and coated the lamb before smoking. This lamb was just fabulous. The outside was a little crisp (I ran it under the broiler) and flavorful without being mouth-burning hot. The inside was pink and juicy, with a lightly smoked flavor that was not overpowering. I smoked it over apple wood, which tends to be mild. And the lamb was so tender you could cut it with a fork.

Spiced lamb sliced

Spice-Coated Lamb Roast

1½ to 2 pounds lean boneless leg of lamb, trimmed of all visible fat
1 teaspoon chili powder
1 teaspoon minced garlic
1 teaspoon ground coriander
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon salt
1 Tablespoon dried bread crumbs
3 Tablespoons non-fat yogurt
2 Tablespoons lemon juice
2 Tablespoons raisins
1 Tablespoon canola oil

In a small bowl, mix together the chili powder, garlic, coriander, cumin, and salt. In a food processor, process the bread crumbs, yogurt, lemon juice, raisins, and oil until smooth. Add the spice mixture and pulse several times to mix. Rub the mixture all over the leg of lamb. Smoke for 2½  to 3 hours (or according to your smoker’s instructions.)  I used plain water in the smoker’s water basin to keep the meat moist.  When I finished the smoking process, I thought the meat looked unattractive, so put it under the broiler for 5 minutes a side to crisp up the outside. This lamb is about 9 grams of fat for a 4 ounce serving.

spiced lamb whole

Variation: The recipe I referenced for the spice coating called for the lamb to be oven roasted, so here are the instructions for roasting it more traditionally.  Make the spice coating as above. Preheat the oven to 350. After coating the lamb, wrap it in aluminum foil and roast it for about an hour. Remove the lamb from the oven, open the foil, and spoon the spice mixture over the lamb. Return to the oven and cook, uncovered, for about 45 minutes more.

Braised Lamb Shanks

Lamb shanks are very rich.  The shank is the lower part of the leg – the ankle so to speak – and perhaps their richness comes from the notion that the closer to the bone, the sweeter the meat.  They certainly are bony. I always thought that they would be high in fat, so although I love their pronounced lamb flavor and hearty goodness, I have avoided cooking them.  But, since they were on sale last week, I looked them up and they were surprisingly low in fat if you trim them well.

Lamb shanks require long, slow cooking , otherwise they would be very tough.  This is a good make ahead dish, because you will want to skim the fat off after cooking, and like many rich dishes, the flavor deepens the next day.

Braised Lamb Shanks

1 Tablespoon  minced fresh thyme
1 teaspoon  salt
½  teaspoon  crushed dried savory or 1 teaspoon minced fresh savory
½  teaspoon  freshly ground black pepper
4 lamb shanks (about 12 ounces each)
1 teaspoon  olive oil
2 cups onion, chopped small (I chopped the onion and carrots in the food processor so they melted into the sauce)
1 cup carrots, chopped small
3 garlic cloves, minced
2 cups  dry red wine
3/4 cup  fat-free, less-sodium chicken broth
3/4 cup  fat-free, less-sodium beef broth

Trim every bit of visible fat from the lamb shanks.  Combine the first 4 ingredients, setting aside 1 teaspoon of the herb mixture. Rub lamb shanks all over with remaining herb mixture.  Spray a large pan or Dutch oven with cooking spray.  Add oil to pan and heat over medium heat. Add lamb to pan; cook 2 minutes on each side or until browned.  (I had to do them 2 at a time to fit them in the pan and give them room to brown.) Remove lamb from pan; keep warm.  Add onion, carrot, and garlic to pan; cook 5 minutes or until lightly browned and tender, stirring occasionally. Add wine and reserved 1 teaspoon herb mixture; bring to a boil. Cook until mixture is reduced to 2 cups (about 6 minutes). Add broths; bring to a boil. Cook until mixture is reduced to 1 3/4 cups (about 5 minutes). Return lamb to pan; cover, reduce heat, and simmer 2 1/2 hours or until lamb is tender, turning shanks occasionally. I had to add ½ cup of water to the lamb about half way through to keep the liquid from drying up and burning – so keep a careful eye on them, and check the liquid level when you turn the shanks.  When the shanks are done, remove them from the braising liquid.


Pour braising liquid into a container. Refrigerate lamb and braising liquid separately. When liquid has chilled and fat hardened on the surface, remove the fat and discard it. Reheat the shanks in the braising liquid.  Makes 4 servings at about 8 grams of fat/serving.  Serve over rice, noodles, or mashed potatoes.



I have lost 200 pounds. I did not do it through surgery – I don’t like knives and needles – or by joining a club, vigorous exercise, or rigorous dieting. I did it by gourmet cooking. To be precise, by cooking low fat, really delicious food. I love to cook as much as I love to eat. Food magazines are some of my favorite reading. I would feel deprived if I couldn’t have the sensuous experience of good food crossing my lips. This blog is about my perpetual feast, my passionate love of food, with recipes, photos, and occasional advice and principles that I have learned along the way.

More about me.

AddThis Feed Button

Follow me on Twitter