Sherry Braised Lamb Shoulder


Warm up to these hearty Braised Lamb Shoulder Steaks. A one-pot meal  that is no fuss and under $10; just let time work its magic.

I start by browning the lamb in olive oil, then add chunky pieces of carrots, onions, tomatoes, leeks and whatever fresh herbs I have on hand.

Season everything liberally with freshly ground pepper and then cover all of this with some home-made chicken stock and sherry. I’m cautious with salt because my stock is already salted. I can add more later.

Simmer for about 45 minutes and then taste, adjust seasoning and cook a bit more, or until the sauce thickens. Keep tasting, you’ll know when it’s ready.

Gorgeous swiss chard was dancing in the aisles at the supermarket so I could not resist. Steam-sauteed with whole garlic cloves and virgin oil delivered a sweet and delicious accompaniment.

I thinly sliced all the extra leeks and quickly fried them into frizzled leeks.

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Pan Seared Veal Shoulder Steak

I enjoy turning cheap cuts of meat into tasty budget meals.

Veal shoulder steaks are very inexpensive and when paired with a starch, you can put a fancy dinner for two on the table for under $10.

  1. In a smoking hot pan coated with 1 tablespoon of olive oil, add one veal shoulder steak. In the same pan, surround the veal with a medium onion (quartered) and a few cloves of garlic. Season with salt and pepper.
  2. Stir the onions and garlic occasionally while the veal browns.
  3. Turn the veal to brown the other side, then add 1/2 cup of white wine and some fresh sage or thyme.
  4. Lower the heat to medium, add 1 tablespoon of butter and cover. Simmer until the sauce thickens. Serve.

Spaghetti & Fettucine

Giovanni Cucullo

Tomatoes, Mascarpone, Butter & Thyme

 

After making my fresh pasta, I break out my Kitchen Aid which has a very handy pasta attachment. I cut my pasta dough into 3 equal pieces and press them out to 1/4 thick rectangles. I run them through the kitchen aid rollers, adjusting to a thinner setting a bit at a time until i have 3 long sheets of pasta, being careful to keep the pasta well-floured. I replace the rollers with the spaghetti cutter attachment and run the pasta sheets through the cutter and voilà!…spaghetti.

I follow the same procedure when I make fettucine, using the fettucine attachment, of course:

I like to dry some of the fettucine for later use.
Fresh pasta should be refrigerated and used within 3 days, but you can dry the pasta and store it in sealed containers to keep for months.

There is nothing like Freshly Made Pasta. I often enjoy it in its simplest form with fresh tomatoes and basil with a touch of butter.

Gnocchi

 

My mother made Gnocchi about once a month and they were surely one of my favorite foods. She would always use your average Idaho baking potato; but after a lot of trial and error with different recipes I have concluded that Russet potatoes produce the best texture. 

These are light as a feather! 

2 pounds Russet Potatoes
1 cup all-purpose flour plus more as needed
1 whole egg 

 

 

  1. Boil the potatoes (skin on) in a pot of water. Cook until tender. While still warm, peel off the skin and pass the potatoes through a food mill and onto a clean work surface.
  2. Add most of the flour to the potatoes and mix into a soft mixture; add the eggs and add more flour as needed. Knead the dough until you have a slightly sticky ball.
  3. Dust the work surface with some flour. Divide the ball into 4 equal pieces. Roll each piece into a rope-like shape about ¾ inches in diameter, occasionally dusting your hands and the work surface with flour to prevent sticking. Cut the rope into 1-inch pieces.
  4. Score the gnocchi pieces by flicking them off the inside of a fork. My mother often used the inside of a small wicker basket. These markings allow the sauce to cling to the gnocchi.
  5. Bring about 6 quarts of water to a boil. Drop about 24 gnocchi into the water. After they float to the top, wait about ten seconds and then remove them from the water with a slotted spoon. Set aside. Continue cooking the remaining gnocchi.
  6. Toss the gnocchi with your favorite sauce.

 

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Perfect Roast Chicken

The other day I was watching that very popular cooking network with all those famous chefs. One of the chefs mentioned that it was “not” necessary to wash a chicken before roasting and that contact with water would prevent it from becoming crisp.

My mother would be rolling in her grave if she heard that a chicken was not being washed. In fact, my mother used to soak her chicken in a pot with cold running water.

I followed my mother’s advice and took it a step further by adding lots of salt to the water. After soaking, I patted it dry and seasoned it heavily with salt and pepper, inside and out. My mother always placed a lemon and a bay leaf inside the bird with whatever fresh herbs she had in her pantry.

I generously rubbed the bird with herb-butter (the butter aids in crisping and coloring the chicken) and tied and shackled him in a simple fashion.

The roasting is easy.
For a 3 to 4lb chicken, roast it at 450 degrees for 1/2 hour, then remove the bird and give it a happy basting bath. Return the bird to the oven and roast for another 1/2 hour.

Remove from oven and allow to rest for 15 minutes on warm stove top. My mother always covered roasts loosely with some aluminum foil after removing them.

I like to de-glaze the roasting pan with some white wine or sherry, loosening all those tasty bits from the bottom of the pan. Season the gravy as desired and serve with the bird.