9 March 2012

Darina Allen's Game Changing Braised Lamb Shanks with Garlic, Rosemary and Cannelini Beans

Lamb Shanks with Garlic, Rosemary and Cannellini Beans
March is when the rest of the world takes notice and we all become Irish for a day. We start wearing as many colours of green as the Irish hills and dales, drinking green beer and Guinness at our favourite local pubs and singing renditions of Danny Boy in our best pitched voices. L'il Burnt Toast is named after the Emerald Isle so it holds special meaning for us, even if we are not Irish, and we have always celebrated with food. Farm fresh spring lamb flavoured with fresh rosemary, smoked Irish salmon served with Connemara Peated Single Malt Whiskey, and black pudding will exercise your taste buds as you imagine taking in the sights and sounds of the Emerald Isle along one of Ireland’s many tasty food trails. 

So what better way to bring a little Irish into your life than to discover our next Game Changer Darina Allen who is the owner of the internationally renowned Ballymaloe Cookery School in Shanagarry, County Cork, Ireland. As well as running the school and teaching classes there, she writes newspaper columns, articles and cookbooks, most of which focus on Irish cuisine. The school is part of an organic farm that grows much of the food used at the school and the nearby Ballymaloe House bed and breakfast.
She is not limited to being an author and instructor, Darina has also appeared on a number of television shows and series and is a culinary celebrity in Ireland.

Darina is a founder of the first farmers markets in Ireland and involved on an ongoing basis in helping to set up new markets. She is very involved with the Midleton Farmers Market and the Slow Food Movement and is president of East Cork Convivium of Slow Food. As you can see she wears many hats and does it well!! How fortuitous that Darina is our Game Changer this week just in time for St. Paddy's Day!

One of our simple pleasures in life is navigating the blogging community and participating where the feeling takes us. Our group is now well past the halfway point on the list of Gourmet Live's 50 Women Game Changers. The past ninth months have flown by as we experimented with dishes from each of the 50 influential women on "the list." Whether you agree or disagree with the authors chosen fifty and their order it has been an enjoyable and creative outlet to cook from the masters and those we admire. There have even been a few successful bloggers on the list. We have checked out books from the library, borrowed cookbooks from friends, surfed the Internet and browsed our own cookbook collections seeking that one recipe that will highlight that weeks outstanding woman. This group is spearheaded by my favourite well-travelled blogger Mary of One Perfect Bite who back in June 2011 invited bloggers to travel along on a culinary journey throughout the year. It is still not too late to join in in 2012.

So what have we been up to with our next Game Changer... 

Mary of One Perfect Bite - Ballymaloe Brown Yeast Bread
Val of More Than Burnt Toast - Braised Lamb Shanks with Garlic, Rosemary and Cannelini Beans
Susan of The Spice Garden - Mincemeat Crumble Tart 
Taryn of Have Kitchen, Will Feed - Strawberry Quark  
Heather of Girlichef - Lemon Meringue Pie 
Miranda of Mangoes and Chutney - Brown Butter Soda Bread
Jeanette at Jeanette's Healthy Living - Grilled Chicken with Parsley Salad and Sundried Tomatoes  
Kathleen Van Bruinisse at Bake Away with Me- Kumquat Jam
Sue of View from The Great Island- Brown Bread and Homemade Butter
Linda of There and Back Again- Seville Orange Marmalade Cake
Barbara of Moveable Feasts - Brown Bread
Nancy of Picadillo - Winter Leek and Potato Soup
Mireya - My Healthy Eating Habits- Toasted Bread Pudding
Veronica of My Catholic Kitchen - Irish Soda Bread/Spotted Dog
Annie  at Most Lovely Things
Claudia of Journey of an Italian Cook
Alyce of More Time at The Table- Brown Soda Bread
Amrita of Beetle's Kitchen Escapades - Potato and Caraway Cakes

Part of the reason why I continue with this challenge is to do exactly that and challenge myself each week with either a new technique or in this case a "new to me" food. I have seen many mouth-watering dishes for braised shanks "of the beef kind" and I thought it was time to venture into this home-spun dish. With one foot lightly in the cold, damp wintry days and one foot skipping into Spring I decided to go with this homespun dish to bring me the best of both worlds. What doesn't say Spring more than lamb!!!This dish is where the magic of slow cooking transforms something that, cooked on a high heat, would be very tough into something melt- in-your mouth tender.

De reir a cheile a thogtar na caisleain [deh rare ah kay-lee a hug-tar nah cosh-lawn] is something the Irish may be well qualified to advise on in today’s hectic world. It means “It takes time to build castles.” Just as it takes time to build a life and castles it takes time to make these slowly roasted lamb shanks. You will be happy you reinvented the wheel and tried this version of an old classic.  I love simple clean dishes and figured this would be a good one to try leading up to or after drinking my green beer. 

**Braised Lamb Shanks with Garlic, Rosemary and Cannellini 
4 lamb shanks, about 1kg 
8 small sprigs of rosemary
8 slivers garlic
4 anchovy fillets, halved
salt and freshly ground black pepper
For the tomato fondue:

1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
110g onions, sliced
1 garlic clove, crushed
900g very ripe tomatoes, peeled
salt, freshly ground pepper and sugar to taste
2 tablespoons of any or a combination of the following: freshly chopped mint, thyme, parsley, lemon balm, marjoram or torn basil
a few drops of balsamic vinegar (optional)
For braising:

30g duck fat or olive oil
225g streaky bacon
2 carrots, roughly chopped
2 celery stalks, roughly chopped
1 leek, roughly chopped
1 onion, roughly chopped
1 garlic head, halved horizontally
225ml bottle good red wine
300ml lamb or chicken stock (see below)
sprig of thyme
2 sprigs of rosemary
2 bay leaves
2 strips of dried orange peel
1 x 400g tin cannellini beans, drained or 200g dried cannellini beans, soaked overnight then boiled rapidly for 30 mins
600ml homemade chicken or lamb stock
2 sprigs of thyme
leaves from 2 sprigs of rosemary, chopped
sprigs of rosemary, for garnish
To make the tomato fondue heat the oil in a casserole or stainless-steel saucepan. Add the onions and garlic and toss until coated. Cover and sweat on a gentle heat until the onions and garlic are soft but not coloured.

Slice the tomatoes and add with all the juice to the onions. Season with salt, pepper and sugar. Add a generous sprinkling of herbs. Cook, uncovered, for about 10 minutes, or until the tomatoes soften. A few drops of balsamic vinegar at the end of cooking will greatly enhance the flavour.
Next, preheat the oven to 150ºC/Gas 2. Remove most of the fat from each shank and then scrape the meat away from the bone to loosen it.
Make two deep incisions in each joint and insert a sprig of rosemary and a sliver of garlic wrapped in half an anchovy fillet into each incision. Season the meat with salt and black pepper.
Heat the duck fat or olive oil in a heavy sauté pan or casserole and sauté the meat until it is well browned on all sides. Remove the lamb shanks from the pan.
Next add the bacon and cook until crisp, then add the carrots, celery, leek, onion and garlic and cook over a high heat until slightly browned. Add the red wine to the pan and bring to the boil, stirring for a minute or two.
Add the stock, herbs and orange peel to the pan, then place the lamb shanks on top. Cover and cook in the oven for 2¼ hours.
Remove from the oven and add the tomato fondue, cannellini beans, herbs and enough stock to half-cover the beans. Cover and simmer for a further 45 minutes to 1 hour.
When the lamb has finished cooking it should be falling off the bone. Remove the thyme, bay leaves and orange peel. Taste and correct the seasoning.
Serve the lamb shanks in a hot, deep dish with the beans and vegetables poured over and around. Garnish with sprigs of fresh rosemary and thyme.

Serves 4

This post is also perfect for one of our Game Changer participants and my BBFF who is hosting My Legume Love Affair this month. Heather of Girlichef is hosting the 45th edition.  This is a popular event which is the baby of Susan of A Well Seasoned Cook.

You are reading this post on More Than Burnt Toast at http://morethanburnttoast.blogspot.com. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to the author and or owner of More Than Burnt Toast. All rights reserved by Valerie Harrison.http://oneperfectbite.blogspot.com/2012/03/50-women-game-changers-in-food-38.html
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  1. oh, what a gorgeous dish! So nourishing, comforting and tasty. Impossible not to fall in love with Darina's recipe.



  2. I'm remembering for a moment what it was like to gallops across the windswept fields, fragrant with gorse bush, through the Burren and down along the Cliffs of Moher. One of the best experiences of my life. Ireland is a special place.

    Lamb shanks are an upcoming project for me. They are one of my favorite things to order in restaurants, so I realize it's time to make them at home. I was alls set to make them once and the store was out and I tried beef shanks instead. I'm hoping I have better luck with them than I did with beef shanks because those weren't good at all. I am giving your methods some very careful consideration for reassurance!

  3. Lamb shanks with garlic and rosemary - it doesn't get any better than that. Happy Saint Patty's day Val.

  4. This dish could feed a family for a week! You did a superb job on this, and it's a great tribute to Darina.

  5. I'm a big fan of long and slow cooked lamb shanks. In fact, I had one this week. This is a particularly good recipe with traditional ingredients and some unexpected ones as well. I'm sure you really enjoyed that meal!

  6. Hi Val - it sounds delicious. Like the addition of anchovy. Enjoying this series as much as ever...

    Lovely photo with the tulips.
    Erin Go Bragh,

  7. What an interesting post! Those lamb shanks really look wonderful; if only i could convince my husband that lamb is Good.

  8. This bowl of braised lamb shanks look amazing! If served in front of me I would have thought I died and gone to heaven.

  9. I'm getting tired of my old go to recipe for stuff Lamb leg. This one sound very good. I'm saving the recipe for Easter.

  10. This looks delicious..Totally YUMMY


  11. What a beautiful dish to honor Darina Allen by!

  12. Another incredible post, Val! I always love reading your take on these game changing women! As for the lamb shanks, my goodness! Simple, but rich with the broth and beans and herbs! What a dish!

  13. What lovely picture and look delicious Vall:)

  14. This looks fabulous! I absolutely love lamb and this dish sounds wonderful! A must try!

  15. I love Lamb at restaurants. When I try it at home It never tastes good. I may try this recipe and give lamb another try. Thanks for sharing this recipe with us.

  16. That looks delicious and so juicy! Though the ingredient list is a mile long, it's certainly a very simple recipe. These kind of recipes used to daunt me but, once I learned how easy they actually are while making beef bourguignon, I've been raring to go with a whole bunch of recipes I want to try, including this one.

  17. Val, what a wonderful post and what a perfect dish to represent Ireland and Darina's style of cooking. Have a great weekend. Blessings...Mary

  18. I have been craving lamb shanks lately and thinking I was probably going to do something with them for Easter...and this looks like perfection. I can just imagine what a comforting dish this is...garlic, rosemary, cannellini's...oh yes! Delicious choice this week. And thanks for sharing it with MLLA this month, too (no need to send it over, I've got it)! =)

  19. Lamb Shanks are one of my favourites. Your dinner looks amazingly good.


  20. I had never heard of Darina until today - such a fascinating woman! Your lamb shanks look just fabulous!

  21. I just want to dive into that bowl of yumminess!

  22. I think I would actually prefer this to the typical corned beef!

  23. So pleased to see this recipe, Val. So many people don't know what to do with lamb shanks. I have an old Gourmet cookbook recipe with red wine I've been using for years...and often I just stick one in the oven for me...just salt and pepper.
    Definitely going to try this. Your dish turned out beautifully.
    Love the tulips in the background!

  24. Can't get enough of slow cooked meat. This by far is a dish that I can eat all the time...loved the tulips....

  25. It's takes time to build castles. I love that. I enjoyed the story and in looking at the ingredients (anchovies, orange peel, duck fat, bacon) wow is all I can say. I can't think of a single restaurant in Nashville that would turn out such a meal, which is why home cooking is one of the greatest pleasures.

  26. Oh my goodness, you instantly got my mouth watering with this recipe, Val. We love lamb and the shanks are a favorite cut. I'm not familiar with Darina and am very happy to learn something about this very accomplished woman.

  27. You had me at lamb shank.

    Love the recipe, must give it try soon ... before the hot weather rolls in.

    Kay Johnson

  28. How delicious they look, tender and beautifully brown.

  29. I loved this post, Val!

  30. I would go away just when you are featuring Irish cooking for St. Patrick's Day! Love using lamb shanks and shall be doing this. Garlic and rosemary and lamb have the most wonderful marriage. The opening shot is stunning!

  31. "it takes time to build castles" - I love it. Such a great metaphor for life and for the making of this dish!

  32. I'm not familiar with this chef, but the recipe sounds delicious. I'm such a fan of braising, as you know. Lamb shanks, rosemary and beans are the perfect combo. I like some of the surprise ingredients, like anchovies and orange peel. This dish sounds so flavorful, and looks lovely.

  33. Delicious n yummy dish.

  34. i like that irish quote, and the meal is amazing. rosemary is always a draw for me. :)

  35. I love that picture of Darina. :-) She looks so happy with her big box of tomatoes. :-) This recipe is marvelous - so hearty and absolutely delicious! I'd love to tuck into this now that Autumn is nearly here. :-)

  36. What an absolutely delicious looking meal, Val!

  37. I have been working on my family tree for awhile, and hoping, just hoping I would find a bit of Irish in it. So far, no luck. I have a few branches to search yet, but I am still going to celebrate St. Pat's in style.

  38. I'm trying to get more into slow cooking since I'm so keen and into pressure-cooking. I just can't imagine taking that kind of time to make a meal. There are those ones that require that kind of attention. I remember making a meal for St. Patrick's last year. I doubt I'll be making anything special this year but I'll hit up all these wonderful dishes you shared from your group!

  39. What a gorgeous recipe, Val. I love lamb shanks in any preparation! The tomato fondue sounds great and I am SO on board with using duck fat for braising. I actually have a jar of duck fat sitting in my fridge right now. :)

  40. A wonderful hearty dish, Val.
    My daughter is travelling to Ireland this Summer to improve her English and I will miss her so much.
    I might be cooking this for her so that she gets used to the local cooking before she goes there ;D

  41. wow i am drooling over this! I love lamb!!!


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