Tag Archives: juniper

Lamb Shanks

Lamb shanks marinating in red wine, with garlic, rosemary, cassia bark and juniper.

Looking back I surprised myself by finding that the recipe upon which this is based doesn’t actually include rosemary. It’s lamb for heaven’s sake! Surely if you marinate lamb without rosemary it becomes a police matter? Nigel Slater’s original [which I can’t find online, he must want you to buy the book] used thyme. But my most fondly remembered version of this was made using the extravagantly perfumed sprigs of the council funded, ‘help yourself” rosemary bush by the post office in Salcombe, Devon.

Ditch End across the estuary in East Portlemouth, the sumptuous seventies porn-palace of a house where we stayed, has since disappeared – I hope the same isn’t true of the municipal herb garden.

for two

  • 2 lamb shanks
  • rosemary sprigs, several
  • 2 bulbs of garlic, sliced in half across their equators
  • a bay leaf
  • a piece of cassia bark [or a cinnamon stick]
  • sherry vinegar, 2 tablespoons
  • an onion, chopped
  • red wine, a bottle [something full and fruity]
  • a dozen juniper berries, lightly crushed and wrapped in muslin
  • anchovy fillets, a couple
  • flour
  • oil

Marinate the lamb in the wine, with the sherry vinegar, garlic, rosemary, bay, cassia and juniper. Leave this at least overnight. I think the Salcombe version was delayed by a day and so had a good 48 hours.

Heat some oil in a heavy, lidded casserole dish. Pat dry the marinated lamb, toss it in a little flour, and brown well on all side. Set the lamb aside and soften the onions in the same pan, adding more oil if necessary. Once the onions are soft and golden chop the anchovy fillets well and add to the pan, cooking for a couple of minutes more.

Return the lamb to the pan. Remove the juniper parcel from the marinade then add the rest to the casserole, and bring to a simmer. Now into the oven, for either 2 hours at 200°C, or 4 hours at 150°C. Remove the finished lamb to somewhere warm to rest whilst you check the sauce for seasoning, fish out the rosemary sprigs and bay leaf, and thicken if necessary. The garlic should be yieldingly soft, and depending on your taste you might smoosh [this word exists, so they tell me!] some of the softened innards into the sauce whilst removing the papery skins, or discard them altogether – their flavouring work is done.

Serve with – what else? – mash!

 

#clocksgoback recipe

Juniper in January

Juniper berries in a bowl

There are many wintry casseroles which are pepped up by these piny purple pearls – I’m thinking venison braised slowly in red wine for starters – but lately I’ve gone a bit juniper mad and seem be slinging it in just about everything. If it carries on like this I might be getting an additional pepper grinder and filling it with juniper berries [hmmm, that’s actually not a bad idea…].

Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall’s partly to blame after he devoted an entire Guardian Weekend article to it in November. I’d be quite happy with any of those dishes but getting the Shopkeeper to eat rabbit is frankly more trouble than it’s worth – he’s seen through my “it’s chicken” ruse before now and is on constant bunny alert – so I’ll save that one for another day. And whilst I was rather taken with the sound of the gratin I decided instead to use the idea of juniper infused cream in a parsnip and potato mash to go with coq au vin, and again as a topping for a red wine rich cottage pie. When I mentioned this on Twitter food writer Fiona Beckett said it sounded ‘totally delicious’ – and I don’t think she was wrong.

Then this week I decided that an onion gravy needed a juniper hit. I’d ended up buying some sausages in Fortnum and Mason’s [long story] and was in the mood for a saucy experiment worthy of my bling bangers. I always use Nigel Slater’s recipe as a base and to the caremelised onions I added crushed juniper and some slivers of sweet black garlic, and replaced the Madeira with a good glug of Hendrick’s gin. I will be doing this again.

But it’s not just a winter thing. Once the sun returns, assuming that it bothers this year, try making a simple vinaigrette and adding a few crushed juniper berries and a bruised garlic clove and allow to steep overnight. The next day make a salad of leaves and sweet little tomatoes, crumble in a mild lactic cheese like Wensleydale, or even a milder fresh goat’s cheese, anoint with the dressing and watch the juniper fall in love with the cheese.

And of course we can’t talk about juniper and not mention gin. Actually I find it difficult to have a conversation of any sort and not mention gin, especially when conversing with bar tenders. There’s more on the subject here if you’re thirsty for it.