Food52 And Me

I’ve got to say that I’m loving the new food website called Food52 more and more.  The idea of the site is to gather great recipes from home cooks, like you and me, and compile the best ones in a cookbook to be published next year.  Every week there are two recipe theme contests to enter, and if you cook, I urge you to submit your recipes.

I’ve already got one recipe going into the cookbook, an olive and lamb shank concoction that you might want to make before the weather warms up.  And now I have another one nominated, one for a red wine risotto.  Normally I’d be a little embarrassed to be touting my own entry in a contest, but in this case the Food52 team of Amanda Hesser and Merrill Stubbs, did a really neat thing.  They got an Italian chef, Cesare Casselli, to help them make the finalists’ versions of risotto and shot a video of the process.

What makes this really fun for me is that normally I don’t get to see other people making my recipes.  I sometimes hear about how you liked them, but to actually see someone else cooking something I created is a special little thrill.  Want to see what I mean?  To see Chef Cesare Casella supervise the preparation of my Risotto Rosso, click here.  And then, if you are inspired to vote for the recipe, you can do that by clicking here.

But after that, be sure to come back for the lamb recipe, because this is one you don’t want to miss.  I wouldn’t call it a classically French dish, but it’s definitely full of French flavors.

Autumn Olive Medley

4 lamb shanks
3 tablespoons olive oil
salt and pepper
2 large shallots
1 fennel bulb
1 softball-sized celery root (celeriac)
3 cloves garlic
1 bay leaf
1 teaspoon dried bouquet garni
2 cups young red wine
2 cups veal or beef broth
1 cup green olives, pits in
1/2 cup sundried tomatoes in oil
1 splash Ricard or Pernod (optional)
finely grated zest of 1 lemon

Salt and pepper the lamb shanks liberally. Heat olive oil in a large heavy pan with a tight-fitting lid. Brown the lamb shanks all over. Take your time with this and get them really nice and brown. Remove the lamb from the pan and set aside.

Dice the fennel bulb into small pieces. Peel the celery root and dice into the same size pieces as the fennel. Peel and chop the shallots and garlic. Lightly brown the vegetables in the pan used for the meat. When the vegetables are browned add the meat back to the pan. Add the bay leaf, the bouquet garni, the wine, and the broth. Cover the pan and simmer over medium low heat for 1 hour.

Add the olives and the sundried tomatoes to the pot. If necessary, add a little more wine or broth. Simmer, covered, an additional 30 minutes, or until the meat is nearly falling off the bone.

If you’d like to emphasize the fennel flavor and bring out the mellowness of the olives, add a splash of Ricard or Pernod. This really does enhance the dish, and is very Mediterranean. Taste the sauce and add additional salt and/or pepper to taste. Just before serving sprinkle the lamb with the finely grated lemon zest (use a Microplane if you have one).

You can gently pull the meat off the bone and serve it as a stew, or as a sauce over pasta. You can also serve these on the bone as is, or over polenta. Be sure to mention to your diners that the olives contain pits!

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