Friday, March 20, 2009

Lamb Shank Stew with Russet Potato Top *Recipe 31 - Page 118*

I have to say that this was the least favorite of the Tyler recipes so far. The picture in the book looked very tasty. I mean how can you go wrong with stew topped with potatoes, right? While the dish wasn't bad, it was something I would never make or serve again.

This recipe is mainly a braised dish cooked in the oven for about 3 and a half hours. You flour the lamb shanks and sear them on the stovetop. Once they are browned, you add garlic, carrots, onion, cloves, thyme, and a bay leaf. Cook this mix for 2-3 minutes, and then add a bottle of red wine and 1 quart of beef broth. Cover and braise 2 hours. After braising 2 hours, you peel 6 potatoes and halve them. You place them over the stew, cutting potatoes if necessary, and baste them with a garlic-parsley butter and cook, uncovered, for another one and a half hours.

I bought the lamb shanks at Whole Foods and they in turn bought the lamb from a local source here in Kentucky. The lamb was fresh and looked great. When the dish was complete, the lamb did fall off the bone, but it was somewhat fatty and you could still see a lot of connective tissue. Each lamb shank was mostly fat and connective tissue therefore it didn't net very much meat in the end. I spent quite a bit of time before serving trying to separate the meat and arrange it on a serving dish.

The barley had soaked up quite a bit of the red wine and was almost purple. Although it looked slightly strange, it was okay to eat. It did however taste a lot like drinking red wine, which was also strange. My husband made the comment that the whole dish tasted like barley and reminded him of drinking beer! I wouldnt' say this was a bad thing, but I think the barley was something we just weren't used to eating.

In addition to the lamb being so fatty, and the barley tasting so much of red wine, the potatoes were rather hard and never really got very soft. I followed Tyler's directions and basted them with quite a bit of butter and then even added more butter because I felt like it couldn't hurt anything.

We each had one serving and when we were done I knew that I should not save the leftovers. I was happy that I had halved the recipe and only bought 3 lamb shanks. I took the potatoes off the top and saved them for breakfast this morning and then we tossed the rest. I am not fond of throwing food away and probably only do this once or twice a year, but there was no point keeping it.

I only recommend this dish if you know that you love lamb shanks and barley. If you do decide to make this dish I would also recommend that you try baking your potatoes or cooking them in some other method to ensure they are soft when the dish is complete. The recipe is not included in this post, but I would be happy to email it to anyone if they wish to try this dish.


  1. I'm sorry you didn't love it - I braise lamb shanks fairly often, and usually get a decent amount of meat off them - I figure one shank per person. Maybe you just got some particularly fatty shanks?

  2. I remember that Deb did this one and had some trouble - I think with the potatoes.
    You could ask her, or go back in her archives if you want.
    Sorry this didn't work out - but most have, and that's not bad!

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  4. I made this the other week and ended up cooking it (once the potatoes were placed on top) for nearly double the time that Tyler had said. Essentially I kept checking them until I thought they were fork tender. I also basted them halfway through the process instead of at the end like the recipe called for. I actually liked it, but thought it needed more broth, and less wine, because the wine flavor was pretty over powering. So sorry you didn't like it - I know it wasn't an easy dish to prepare, and it's so disappointing when they don't turn out.

  5. I tried this and liked the flavors--my shanks were really good but the potatoes really dried out. I also was a bit on the fence with the barley--the taste was good but it wasn't the prettiest thing. I ws happy my shanks were a bargin since it wasn't a winner for me.

  6. That's a shame, but thanks for your honesty, because I would have tried this and wouldn't want to be disappointed.

  7. I think part of it was that I bought the local lamb shanks. The shanks were pretty small and came from little lambs. I bet the meat was fatty because the animal was so small. I think that was the real issue.
    Culinary Wannabe- Yes, the wine was overpowering and I halved the recipe so I only used half.
    Deb- Yes, the barley wasn't really pretty. It was kind of a purplish gray color from the wine and I just wasn't loving the taste of it.

    I expect to have some dishes along the way that I might not like. I am really impressed with Tyler so far. I have now made 32 recipes and have liked them all with exception to this one. That is really good stats when you think about it!

  8. I guess even Tyler has his off days. ::Sigh:: But I'd say his 32:1 odds are pretty good!

  9. yeah, 32 to 1 is not bad at all. i wouldn't have tried this recipe because i'm not one for lamb but it was interesting reading your thoughts and experiences about what worked and what didn't.


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