Thursday, July 29, 2010

Beer Braised Lamb

Do you find that you only talk about recipes you hardly ever make? This is the third time this month that we're having beer braised lamb, and yet, all I've talked about are things like doughnuts that I eat about twice in three years.

The weather certainly has something to do with how frequently I put bony chunks of meat in a pot and simmer them all afternoon. I'm wearing sweaters and cats, see. The rest of you who are eating salad and peach ice cream can just save this recipe till your winter comes along.

You can use any properly bony cut of lamb for this dish, which is why it's economical. Things I have tried that work well: lamb neck pieces, lamb ribs, miscellaneous "bone-in stewing lamb," and lamb shanks. Shanks tend to be a bit spendier and frankly I don't know why, when lamb ribs are so much more unctuous.

Beer Braised Lamb

This recipe feeds two people with the possibility of some leftovers.

Take a pound of bony lamb, rinse it, and put it in a large heavy pot. Add a couple of sprigs of rosemary, a roughly chopped onion, plenty of salt and pepper, and the better part of a bottle of strong, sweet beer.

Cover and bring to a gentle simmer. Simmer at least four hours. During the last hour or so, check the level of liquid in the pot. If it's still deep and thin, let it simmer uncovered for a while. As the beer reduces, it will thicken and caramelize into an unctuous sauce. Yeah, I like that unct.

Note: if you double this recipe, don't double the beer! More meat in the pot will make the liquid level higher anyway, and if you add more beer it won't reduce and caramelize in time.


Ken Albala said...

Unct as a noun! I love it. Sounds so good and I wish I could make it now. Will have to wait till winter. All ten minutes of it in January.

Anonymous said...

Somewhat unrelated -- can I take the loose corn kernels (the kind that are sold in bulk as popcorn), put that into a spinning-blade style coffee grinder, and make my own cornmeal that way? Or is that the stupidest thing you've ever heard?

Rosanna said...

You could certainly make cornmeal that way! But if you're going to the trouble, I'd recommend not using popcorn, which is smaller and harder than the varieties usually used for cornmeal. Cornmeal corn is about a centimeter in diameter and rather flat.

Also, be very careful not to over-grind the corn, or you'll get corn flour instead of cornmeal. Corn flour is pretty much cornstarch, and behaves rather differently than cornmeal! And if you're grinding up a bunch, do it in little batches, and let the grinder rest if it starts to get hot. Cornmeal doesn't like heat, unless you're actually baking, of course.