Tag Archives: thyme

MORE FARMERS MARKET DINNER: BRAISED LAMB SHANKS

San Francisco’s Ferry Building Farmers Market is much more than the outdoor stalls which attract crowds a couple of days each week. There are all sorts of shops inside the building selling everything from kitchen gear to local caviar. The cheese shops are outstanding, the bakeries are great, and the mushroom place has a huge choice of the freshest specimens. For the carnivores, there are several great shops, but a favorite of both Sarah and me is Prather Ranch. We bought four succulent lamb shanks already done up in plastic, but clearly very fresh. These would be the centerpiece of our farmers market meal.

Turning the braising lamb shanks

After getting the lamb shanks home, Sarah browned them in a huge Magnalite casserole along with a couple of cloves of smashed garlic and some aromatic vegetables: carrots and onions. Chefs seem divided over the use of celery in the classic mirepoix combination of onions, celery, and carrots. Some refuse to use celery as they think it is too bitter. Whatever your own personal bias might be, be sure to brown the lamb shanks in some oil and your choice of vegetables. Add some stock or water and a good slug of red wine. Season with salt and pepper. Toss in a generous handful of fresh thyme and Mediterranean (not Mexican) oregano. Bring to a boil, and then cover and reduce the heat to the lowest simmer.

Some purists insist on using rosemary and garlic as the classic seasoning for lamb. You can do that instead if you prefer, but I can guarantee that thyme and oregano work beautifully.

Steaming braising liquid with herbs

Sarah finished her dish over low heat on the stove top, turning and basting frequently as well as skimming off excess fat. If you prefer, you can braise the lamb shanks, covered,  in the oven at low heat – no more than 250°F. Be sure to check the pot frequently and skim the rendered fat. Plan to braise the shanks for at least 2 to 3 hours or until the meat is well done, tender, and falling off the bone.

When they are done to your liking, remove the lamb shanks to a platter and serve them immediately while still warm.

Finished lamb shanks

Lamb shanks vary greatly in size, but in most cases you should allow one for each diner. With only three of us and four lamb shanks we wound up with leftovers.

Ready to serve

3 Comments

Filed under Food, Photography, Recipes

THE FERRY BUILDING FARMERS MARKET

Susan and I have been making the Great California Loop away from a computer for over two weeks, child tending in all of our children’s houses. That doesn’t mean that we have not had some good food adventures along the way. Over the next several posts, I will describe some of those experiences.

Chefs chatting in front of the Ferry Building

And what better place to begin than San Francisco’s famous Ferry Building Farmers Market? The Saturday edition is the most popular and crowded. It is a big-city street fair with buskers a-plenty, kids on skate boards, families with babies in strollers, and lots of tourists. If you watch carefully you can see some of the best known chefs in the city shopping for their weekend menus and visiting with one another. The main reason for the market’s popularity is the amazing cornucopia of the freshest Northern California food products, and this time of the year the choices are simply amazing.

Sweet peas

Sweet Williams

We  were in a celebratory mood because Sarah and Evan finalized the contract for their new restaurant space just before we headed to the market. Sarah thought we needed to be festive so our first stop was in the bank of flower stalls at the front of the building. The fragrance of the sweet peas attracted us, and Sarah bought an armful of blossoms of all hues.

Asian pears

We passed up the Asian pears and other fresh fruits because we had already opted for fresh-churned ice cream for dessert.

Choose your asparagus

Next stop was the asparagus stall. There were bundles of thick, medium, and thin stalks arranged in orderly rows. The abundance made it hard to choose, but we finally settled on three bundles of beautiful, thick, fresh stalks before moving down the row of vendors.  Fresh dill, thyme, and oregano all made it to our shopping bag.

Beautiful vegetables

Mushrooms! Baskets filled with all varieties of the tasty fungi. Criminis, whites, Portobellos, oysters, shitakes, and my favorites – lion’s manes. There were some giant royal trumpets, but we chose a basket of the most beautiful small-size trumpets.

New potatoes

New potatoes in all colors, sizes, and shapes – a good choice for smashed potatoes.

Hog Island Oyster Company

Hog Island Oyster Company  http://www.hogislandoysters.com is one of the landmarks of the market. We often go to their restaurant for fresh oysters or clam chowder, but today we went to their food stall. They had choices of small and large local sweet oysters-in-the-shell and some crenelated beauties from British Columbia. Sarah got a dozen each of the small sweets and the BCs.

Sarah at the Prather Ranch shop

Then we went inside the Ferry Building to the Prather Ranch stall   http://www.pratherranch.com where we found some juicy lamb shanks.

Chilaquiles

A little more shopping for green garlic to braise with the lamb shanks and some baby cucumbers to turn into a salad. Then, with shopping finished we stopped off for an early lunch. There were all sorts of choices including fried chicken, porchetta sandwiches, and lots of Mexican food. We settled on plates of freshly made chilaquiles to eat al fresco on a make-do seat along a planter wall. Evan loaded up his supply for the restaurant, and Sarah and I packed ours up for what looked like a feast that evening.

Leave a comment

Filed under Food, Photography