Today, I visited the vineyard that I'm supposed to start "interning" for at some point in the future. Kostis, the oenologist, showed me around and gave me a wonderful tasting of all of their wines. On my way out, he let me have whichever of the bottles we had opened that I would like to take with me, and I chose the 2008 Nostos "Pink" (grenache based rose, I still haven't figured out how to put the accent on it to make it wine and not a flower) and the 2006 Nostos Syrah. While driving home, I realized that I wanted something perfect to accompany the Syrah for dinner, so I stopped at the supermarket to pick up some lamb chops.
Upon arrival at the meat counter, I had to make noises to explain to the girl working there what I wanted, since I couldn't remember the word for lamb. "Baaaahhhh", said I. "Ah", she replied, and pointed to several different large chunks of flesh and bone, inquiring as to which I would prefer. Well, I had absolutely no idea. I don't know meat unless it's packaged and has writing in English that tells me exactly what I'm buying, so in the end I just picked a big slab of something that looked substantial.
Once I got it home, I emailed a picture to my dear friends on Facebook and elsewhere, asking them what the hell I should do with this hunk of meat now. I received several very good answers, but not before browsing the internet and deciding that braising would be the easiest way to go (I've never braised anything before in my life, at least not to my knowledge, but it seemed like the lesser of all evils).
And lo and f'ing behold...IT WORKED!!! Seriously...you have no idea how thrilled I was when the two and a half hours of guess-work turned into something not only edible, but pretty damn tasty.
So, here's the recipe for anyone who might like it, followed by pictures:
One (or two...I don't really know how many I had, it was just a mass of bones and tendons and muscles) lamb shanks, sprinkled with salt & pepper.
Throw in a large pot with sauteed garlic, onions and olive oil on each side until brown.
Add a can of diced tomatoes, oregano, red wine, about a cup of water and a vegetable bouillon cube.
Bring to a boil then reduce heat and simmer for 2 1/2 hours, occasionally moving the sauce around and over the meat.
I made some orzo to accompany this, along with some almost stale bread that readily soaked up the juices.
I was so excited by how yummy it was that I made up a plate to take to my neighbor, Helene. Of course, by the time I got it over to her the oil had started to separate and it didn't look so appetizing, but hey...it's the thought that counts, right?
Really...is this a cut of meat or a giant sharks tooth with the gums still attached? How is this going to fit into a pot or pan? How do I break it up? OK...completely destroyed one knife and cutting board trying, just resorted to raw arm power after that. Surely, this adventure is going t o be a disaster.
Ah, ye of little faith. Does thou not know that garlic, onion and wine make everything OK???
Have to give credit to Debbie here. Long ago she taught me that a hairdryer on the cool setting will quickly clear Ramen noodles of all their excess liquid after draining. I applied the same principle here with the orzo, and it worked perfectly.
Me, very alone but very happy with my meal:-)
Note: Please excuse the ripped up T-shirt I'm wearing. When I thought I'd be dealing with charcoal I changed into something that I wouldn't mind getting dirty, and it just never occurred to me to change out of it for dinner (had no idea that the paparazzi would show up).
My dinner view. Didn't want to go to the patio to eat because I thought that would be pure torture for the outside kitties, who I have to stop feeding because they've begun to invite friends.
Me feeling very satisfied with myself. Now if someone would please come do the dishes, and perhaps give me a neck rub...