Monday, October 26, 2009

Amazing dinner...I love you Paula Wolfert!


Once again the morning started with "What do we need to do today?" As usual the list was recited and the conversation turned to "what should we make for dinner?" Lamb of course! We have enough lamb in the freezer to hold us for a year (maybe). At the speed we are going it will be gone way before spring. So, I pulled out a Paula Wolfert cookbook that is one of my favorites. It is "The Slow Mediterranean Kitchen". We decided on Lamb Tagine Smothered in Onions. Although there are lots of steps there is lots of time in between to be able to clean the basement (treadmill being delivered Wen. Too much cooking).


The house smelled incredible and it made it easy to stick around and do stuff that needed to get done rather than jumping in the car and leaving our responsibilities behind while we discovered new places.


We only had half the lamb shanks the recipe called for and it was just the 2 of us so we cut the recipe in half. It was amazing. Once again another fantastic dish out of Paula's book.

Lamb Tagine Smothered In Onions
Adapted from "The Slow Mediterranean Kitchen," by Paula Wolfert
Yield: 6 servings.

5 pounds lamb shanks, trimmed of excess fat
3 teaspoons salt, divided
2 teaspoons freshly ground black pepper, divided
1 1/2 teaspoons ground ginger, divided
About 1/2 teaspoon saffron threads, divided
1 medium onion, coarsely grated ( 1/2 cup), plus 4 pounds large
onions, quartered lengthwise and thickly sliced crosswise
3 whole canned Italian plum tomatoes, seeded and crushed
1 (2-inch) cinnamon stick
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
2 tablespoons plus 2 teaspoons butter, divided
3 tablespoons granulated sugar, divided

Early in the day, or up to 2 days in advance, place the lamb in a
large, heavy casserole or tagine pot. Toss with 2 teaspoons salt, 1
teaspoon pepper, 1 teaspoon ginger, 2 pinches saffron, grated onion,
tomatoes, cinnamon stick and olive oil. Stir over low heat until the
aroma of the spices is released, about 5 minutes. Do not brown the
meat. Add 2 cups water, bring to a boil, reduce the heat, cover and
simmer over very low heat for 3 to 3 1/2 hours. (At the end of this
time, the meat should be almost but not quite thoroughly cooked - not
yet to the point where it's falling off the bone. You can also do
this in a 250-degree oven or in a slow cooker set on high.) Remove
from heat; let cool.

Meanwhile, in a large, heavy saucepan or flameproof casserole,
combine sliced onions with 1/4 cup water, 1 pinch saffron, ground
cinnamon, the remaining 1 teaspoon salt, the remaining 1 teaspoon
pepper, the remaining 1/2 teaspoon ginger, 2 tablespoons butter and 2
tablespoons sugar. Cover; cook over medium-low heat for 1 1/2 hours.
Remove the cover; cook until the liquid evaporates, about 25 minutes.
Reduce the heat to moderately low and cook, stirring often, until the
onions are golden, about 20 minutes. Transfer the onions to a large
plate to cool.

When the lamb shanks are cool enough to handle, pull the meat off the
bones and trim off any fat or gristle. Cut the meat into 1-inch
chunks; transfer to a bowl. Discard the cinnamon stick. (The recipe
can be prepared to this point up to 2 days in advance. Let cool, then
refrigerate the meat, onions and lamb juices in separate containers.)

About 1 hour before serving, preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Discard
all the fat from the lamb juices; boil the liquid down to 1 cup.
Arrange the lamb in a single layer in a shallow, ovenproof serving
dish. Pour the reduced lamb juices over the meat. Spread the golden
onion mixture on top. Spoon any remaining onion cooking liquid over
all. Sprinkle the remaining 1 tablespoon sugar on top; dot with the
remaining 2 teaspoons butter. Bake for 45 minutes or until the
topping is caramelized and bubbling.


Next we had to decide what to make to go with it. I took one look at the picture in the same cookbook and I was done. This was it! Hey VEGETARIAN friends (sorry vegans) this one is for YOU!

Panade of Leeks and Mixed Greens with Cantal Cheese
by Paula Wolfert
from The Slow Mediterranean Kitchen

Serves 8

3 large leeks (white and light green parts only), chopped
1 red onion, chopped
5 green garlic shoots or 8 to 10 garlic cloves, sliced
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
One 1-pound loaf stale chewy bread with crust
1 1/2 pounds (about 10 cups) mixed leafy greens (sorrel, chard, parsley leaves, arugula, spinach, and watercress), deribbed and shredded
Juice of 1/2 lemon
Freshly ground pepper
Grated nutmeg
3 cups whole milk, heated to simmering
1/2 pound Cantal or Gruyère cheese

1. Measure the leeks, onion, and garlic to be sure you have about 1 quart.


2. In a 7- or 8- quart pot, heat the olive oil over medium heat. Slowly stew the leeks, onion, and garlic for 10 minutes. Add 1 teaspoon salt and cook for 5 more minutes. Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 250°F (120°C).


3. Cut the bread into 1-inch cubes (bread matters here). Find a chewy bread with a good crust. You should have about 2 quarts. Spread the cubes in one layer on an oiled baking sheet and bake for 45 minutes, or until just golden. Let cool and store until ready to use.


4. Add the greens to the pot, cover, and cook over low heat for 45 minutes. Uncover and boil away excess liquid. Allow to cool. Add the lemon juice, pepper, and nutmeg to taste. Correct the salt. (Up to this point the recipe can be prepared 1 day in advance. Cool, cover, and refrigerate. Bring to room temperature before continuing.)


5. About 2 1/2 hours before serving, oil a deep 3-quart casserole, preferably earthenware. Place one-third of the bread cubes in the dish, top with half the greens, and repeat, ending with the bread cubes and patting lightly to make an even topping. Gradually pour the hot milk down the insides and over the top of the panade so everything is moist. If necessary, add 1/2 cup water. Cover with the grated cheese and a sheet of foil.


6. Bake in a preheated 250°F (120°C) oven for 1 3/4 hours. Raise the oven temperature to 400°F (200°C), uncover, and bake 20 more minutes. Remove from the oven and allow to relax for about 10 minutes before serving.


I have to tell you that this is my new favorite food in the whole world. I love the lamb, but this dish with the greens and the bread was the best thing I have eaten in a long time (and that is saying a ton considering the cooking that goes on around here). I think I could be a vegetarian again if I could eat this every night and not end up weighing 10000lbs.

I love you Paula Wolfet...


  1. I LOVE lamb shanks. SOooooooo delicious! This sounds wonderful.

  2. I love lamb Janis but haven't eaten it in forever!!! This looks fabulous. I'm definitely going to put your recipe on my must try list. Thanks for the inspiration.

  3. All looks great. Love it when we find a new perfect food

  4. I have so many lamb shanks recipe. I just love it so much. Actually, I just love lamb.

  5. This lamb sounds amazing!

  6. I LOVE lamb shanks. SOooooooo delicious! This sounds wonderful.