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I May Hate Winter, But I Love Winter Food

Another huge snow storm has hit the entire east coast! Hopefully this will be the final blizzard, because everyone (including myself) is sick of this ridiculous winter weather.

The only good thing about a snow day is it gives me an excuse to cook! I decided to take the day to invent some new recipes and try different ingredients. Inspired by the weather, I made a delicious lamb and eggplant dish. These warm, comforting flavors are perfect for a wintery day, not to mention delicious.

The Wonders of Lamb and Wine

I feel like lamb is a forgotten red meat in American cuisine. Usually I see dishes that involve beef, but not so much lamb. I personally feel like lamb is a much tastier cut of meat. Compared to the large cow, the smaller lamb often lends a more tender cut. I’ll admit that it needs to cook for quite some time. But it makes an excellent protein choice for savory dinners.

Red wine undeniably pairs well with lamb. I’m personally impartial to a Merlot or Pinot Noir, although a Zinfandel is surprisingly another great choice. The velvety undertones in these wines work perfectly with rich cuts of meat. Today’s recipe uses the wine as the cooking liquid for a braise. You could also use broth, or even water, if you’d prefer a non-alcoholic braising liquid. Know however, that the alcohol in the wine cooks up.

lamb

About Ratatouille

Ratatouille is one of those interesting dishes because in my eyes, it represents the epitome of French Provencal cuisine. The South of France isn’t the South of France without a warm and comforting bowl of ratatouille. Over the years, I’ve tried just about every recipe for ratatouille out there. I’ve roasted the vegetables. I’ve baked them. But I find that my favorite way to make it is on the stove. Mind you, this is not the traditional ratatouille recipe. With all the variations out there, it seems that every family has their own recipe.  Feel free to experiment with other recipes and find the one that suits you best!

ratatouille

Pinot Noir Braised Lamb Shanks with Ratatouille

Serves 4-6

Ingredients for the Lamb:

1 1/2 pounds lamb shanks, bone in

1/2 bottle red wine (I used Pinot Noir)

1 onion, diced

1 Tbsp olive oil

2 Tbsp Herb de Provence

1 Tbsp Rosemary

1 cup beef or chicken broth

1 Tbsp minced garlic

salt and pepper to taste

Ingredients for the ratatouille:

1 onion, diced

1 Tbsp minced garlic

1 cup beef or chicken broth

1 Tbsp Herb de Provence

1 eggplant, chopped into 1-inch pieces

1 zucchini, chopped

1 yellow squash, chopped

6-7 VERY ripe plum tomatoes, chopped

Directions:

1. For the lamb, saute oil, onion, and garlic for 5 minutes. Meanwhile, salt the lamb shanks liberally. Place the shanks in the pan and let them sear for 5-10 minutes until browned.

2. Add herb de Provence and rosemary. Let lamb cook for another 5 minutes. Add win and beef/chicken broth, and bring mixture to a boil. Let the liquid boil for 15 minutes, then lower the temperature and let simmer for 1 hour or longer.

3. In a separate pot for the ratatouille, saute the onion, oil, and garlic  for 5 minutes. Add eggplant, zucchini, and yellow squash. Cook until excess water has been removed, about 20 minutes. Add a splash of chicken broth as needed  to keep the vegetables from sticking. (Note: you might not need the entire amount of broth. Use as much as you think is needed to keep the vegetables from sticking.)

4. Add herb de Provence and tomatoes. Cook another 30-45 minutes until liquid cooks down and leaves just enough to create a thick sauce.

lamb plate

I love this dish because it’s super flavorful. It’s also a pretty clean and wholesome meal. If you trim some of the fat off of the shanks, the meat is very lean. Besides, I like to eat fattier cuts of meat once or twice a week to make sure I get enough iron and other nutrients in my diet. It’s okay to eat meats with fat from time to time! I used to think only chicken breast was a healthy protein choice. But over the years, I’ve slowly reincorporated different types of meat to make sure I get a complete nutritional profile of protein. So the next time chicken legs or thighs are on sale at the grocery store, by all means splurge! Eating different cuts of meat not only boots nutrition, but also beats boredom!

 

 

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