Thursday, December 2, 2010

Corsican Lamb Shanks Cassoulet

I always find myself being "pulled" to places I have never visited. Yet, when I begin to do my research about the people, places, food and history it all feels so familiar to me. To my surprise, Corsica and Sardinia are two of those places. (yes, there are many more travel days ahead) I could see myself renting a villa on the coast of Corsica overlooking the warm turquoise sea and strolling on the white crescent shaped beaches. I was unaware that the island boasts of over 200 beaches. My kind of place! And the seafood must be amazing.

There I go, again, daydreaming or traveling in my mind as I call it. I envisioned that I would serve my guests this dish of braised lamb shanks roasted with lentils and orzo and loads of flavor! Maybe some poached pears drizzled with honey and cheese for dessert....And then a nap!

So, to make my dream come true I created this meal the other day. My inspiration comes from the beautiful island of Corsica in the Mediterranean. I only bought one lamb shank that was split so I could get the flavorful lamb taste. I'm still not eating a bunch of meat, but I did sneak a bite from my husband's plate. I also, used my crock pot for this one. Great results. The meat fell right off the bone and it was super tender!

In a 5 qt pan put the lamb shank which has been salted and peppered in 2 T of olive oil. Cook on medium high until browned. Remove and set aside. To the pan add:

2 stalks celery, chopped

1 carrot, chopped

1/2 cup onion, chopped

1 tsp rosemary, dried and crushed

Cook until caramelized or soft. Add:

1/2 c red wine and reduce

Add 3/4 c lentils and cook for 2 minutes. At this point I placed the lamb shanks and veggies in a crock pot. Then I added:

1 bay leaf

2 cups beef broth or chicken plus 1 cup water

2 cloves of garlic, roasted and chopped

Cook on high for 4 hours and reduce to low for 3 more hours. If you want to make this before work you can probably cook on low only for at least 8 hours. The last hour make the orzo separately, (I used about 1 cup uncooked) drain and add to the crock pot, mix and continue to cook until done. You can easily increase the amount of meat if you want or leave it out completely for a vegan meal. Your home will smell like a French Bistro and that is a great thing!

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