52 Food Week Fifty: Lamb Shank

As I mentioned last week, we recently signed up for a meat CSA that delivers a nice mix of beef, chicken, and lamb every month. Lamb shanks have so far been a regular inclusion, which delights me to no end, since they are one thing that I’m almost guaranteed to order if they’re available at a restaurant (unless there is rabbit, in which case Thumper usually wins). I had never made lamb shanks at home, but my hand was forced and it was time to attempt one of my favorite dishes.

I did some searching for a recipe that sounded like the Italian-ish preparation to which I’m partial. I finally happened upon an NPR article with a variation on an Alice Waters’ dish that looked both approachable and traditional. I figured that the doyenne of fresh, local cuisine would not lead me astray. I cut the recipe in half to accommodate our household of two and got cracking.

I began by trimming the excess fat and the membrane from the outside of the shanks. Next I rubbed them with salt and pepper, and browned them all over in a hot pan of olive oil.

Browned Lamb Shanks

Once they were browned, I poured off most of the oil, and tossed in some onion, carrot, rosemary, crushed red pepper, and a bay leaf.

Veggies and Spices

Once these were soft, I deglazed the pan with some white wine and a tomato, then put the lamb shanks back in, along with a cup of beef broth. I covered it and put it in the oven, set to 325°F.

Lamb Shanks Ready for Braising

After about two hours of cooking, I removed the lid to let the shanks brown for the final 20 minutes.

About Two Hours Later

Meanwhile, I mixed up a little gremolata of parsley, garlic, and lemon zest.


When the shanks were done, I removed them from the pan, then poured the vegetables into the food processor and puréed them. I then returned the purée to the pan, got it up to a nice simmer, and put the lamb shanks back in for a minute or two.

Shanks in the Sauce

We served the lamb shanks over couscous with the sauce and gremolata on top. This is a fantastic recipe for what I consider the most typical lamb shank preparation. The meat was extremely tender and falling off the bone. We didn’t even need knives. The gremolata adds a nice kick from the garlic and lemon zest. If you’ve got lamb shanks and you’re not sure what to do with them, this is it.

Lamb Shanks Are Served

All the photos are here.

52 Foods Week Thirty Three: Jimmy Nardello Peppers

I’m usually a sucker for anything new, exotic and improbable, so I was delighted to learn about Jimmy Nardello Sweet Italian Frying Peppers. Named for the seed saver who preserved the peppers’ stock—the son of Italian immigrants who brought them to the States—Jimmy Nardello Peppers are long, often twisted, heirloom peppers that range from a greenish yellow to a deep red. I acquired my first haul of peppers from Good Hummus at the Wednesday Farmers’ Market, then realized I wanted more and picked up a handful grown by Full Belly Farm, from the Davis Co-Op. Those from Full Belly were smaller and lighter in color than the ones from Good Hummus.

I was assured by one of the Good Hummus people that while they are traditionally frying peppers, Jimmy Nardellos are even better when brushed with olive oil and roasted. I decided to split the difference by first sautéing them in garlic and olive oil, then broiling them. I also decided to stuff them with a marscarpone cheese filling.

I fried the peppers in two batches, flipping them periodically until their skins were blistered and charred in some cases, then removed them to a cutting board.

Frying with Garlic in Olive Oil

While the peppers cooked, my dinner guests helped by mixing marscarpone, parmigiano reggiano and some toasted bread crumbs together to make the cheese filling.

Cheese Filling

I sliced the side of each pepper, then filled them with a few tablespoons of the marscarpone mixture. Then I stuck them in the oven (set to broil), on the middle rack.

Filled with Cheese

The peppers cooked for about 10 minutes, until they were lightly charred on top and the cheese mixture was golden.

Broiled Peppers

We enjoyed the peppers over couscous. The cheese mixture was lightly sweet with a little crunch, an excellent compliment to the soft sweet flesh of the peppers and their lightly caramelized skins.

Marscarpone Stuffed Jimmy Nardello Sweet Italian Frying Peppers:

12 Jimmy Nardello Peppers, large enough to stuff
1 cup marscarpone (the less sweetness the better)
1/2 cup grated parmigiano reggiano
1/4 cup freshly toasted bread crumbs
3 cloves of garlic
3 tablespoons olive oil

Heat the olive oil in a large pan. Add crushed garlic and cook until garlic begins to brown.

Add whole peppers to pan and cook, turning occasionally, until the skins begin to pucker and char. Remove peppers from heat and let cool.

Mix marscarpone, parmigiano reggiano and breadcrumbs in a small bowl. Make slits in one side of each pepper, then fill peppers with 2 tablespoons of cheese mixture.

Broil in center of oven for 10 minutes, or until skins start to blacken and exposed cheese is golden.

All the photos are here.