Have I got your attention? At this point in the year - for my northern hemisphere, non-equatorial friends, at least - you are hunkering down for the bite of winter soon to approach, if it hasn't already. And with that frosty chill in mind, here are some extremely rewarding recipes to dive into and repeat often. You will certainly want to, once you have lifted fork and tasted the juiciness, the melt-in-your mouth flavors that have earned their place at your table....
And for dessert..... Because, why stop without a nibble of something sweet to send you fully on your way, warm and sated after braised and baked delights?
Braised Lamb Shanks - from Canal House Cooking
Good olive oil
6 lamb shanks
1 small bulb of garlic, cloves peeled
9 small onions, halved lengthwise
1 cup red wine
1 cup crushed tomatoes
2 bay leaves
6-8 cups chicken stock
2 lemons, quartered
sea salt and freshly ground pepper
Heat a good glug of olive oil in a dutch oven or large, deep enameled cast iron pot over medium-high heat. Season the lamb shanks with salt and freshly ground pepper. In batches, brown the shanks on all sides, about 10 minutes or so, and transfer to a platter as browned. Lightly brown the garlic and transfer to the platter with the meat. Add the onions in the pot, cut side down, and sear without turning them, until nicely browned, about 3-5 minutes. Transfer them to the platter as well.
Preheat oven to 325 degrees (F). Pour off any fat and get up any of the black bits in the bottom of the pan with a damp paper towel. Bring pot back to the flame on medium-high heat, and add the wine and bring to a boil. Stir in tomatoes. Return the shanks, garlic, onions, and any juices on the platter to the pot. Season with sea salt and freshly cracked pepper. Add bay leaves and stock, then the lemons. Cover pot and transfer to oven. braise the mixture in the pot until shanks are tender, about 2 1/2 hours.
Uncover the pot and continue to cook in the oven, until shanks are so tender the meat nearly falls off the bone and the braising liquid has reduced a bit, about 45 minutes or so.
Serve the lamb, garlic, onions, and lemons with polenta or mashed potatoes and a black-berry, round red wine (any of these is great ~ Red Zinfandel, Malbec, Primitivo, Mourvedre).
Buttery Skin-On Mashed Potatoes
4 floury potatoes, like Sebago, diced
4 dense, buttery potatoes, like Yukon Gold, diced
1/2 cup heavy cream
A few good knobs of great butter (from grass fed cows is best!)
Sea salt and cracked black pepper
In a pressure cooker or in a saucepan with a wire basket, steam potatoes over boiling water until fork tender. Strain potatoes and place into a large bowl. Meanwhile, in a small saucepan, heat cream and butter until butter has melted and cream comes just to a boil. Mash potatoes with a fork or masher, add cream-butter mixture, and season to taste. Mash to the consistency of your preference - chunky or creamy, as you like. Serve warm beside extra pats of butter.
Chocolate Self-Saucing Pudding
1 2/3 cups self-rising flour
1/3 cup dutch process cocoa powder
1/4 tsp baking powder
3/4 cup butter, at room temperature
1 1/2 cups brown sugar
1 cup full fat milk
1/2 cup Frangelico, Sherry, or Amaretto
2/3 cup dark chocolate chips or chunks
Preheat oven to 325 degrees (F). Using an electric mixer, beat together butter and just over half the sugar until pale and creamy, about 5 minutes. Add eggs and beat to combine. Sift flour, baking powder, and two-thirds of the cocoa powder into butter mixture, and stir to combine. Add milk and liqueur and beat until smooth. Add in chocolate pieces and stir to combine. Pour batter into a buttered 8-inch baking dish.
Add together remaining brown sugar, cocoa powder, and liqueur into a bowl and stir. Add 1 1/3 cups boiling water, whisk together, and pour mixture over pudding batter. Bake until cake has risen and a skewer inserted into cake center comes out almost clean (but not quite), about 35-40 minutes. Cool for a few minutes and serve warm.