By Wendy Monro
Three of my cousins arrived this week to visit Fabulous Las Vegas. Two flew in from Colorado and one drove from Texas with her two small children. I was so excited to see all of them. They were getting in around three o’clock. So, I thought I should make us a late lamb lunch. I believed this would be the perfect way to begin their vacation.
I ran out to the grocery store and bought some chicken nuggets (for the kids), lamb shanks, herbs, fennel and white wine. It is already well above 100 degrees here in Las Vegas. So, white wine is very refreshing and most necessary. Luckily, I had a few hours of time to organize everything and cook before they arrived. This lunch does take a bit of time to prepare but it is well worth it. At least, that is what I discovered once my guests cleaned their plates.
My cousin Alex, who lives here in Vegas, came over to lend me a hand. We turned on some music, sampled the wine and got to work. Unfortunately, my husband was in Boston, and missed out on this meal. I usually have his help when we have a big lunch or a dinner party. Luckily, Alex was around to help. He is an amazing cook and the perfect helper when Claud isn’t here. He loves good food and wine as much as I do. He’s worked in the food industry since he was eighteen. That is, until this year when Claud hired him to work at his advertising agency. Alex wanted to change his career path. Alex and I always have so much fun in the kitchen together. We laugh and goof around.
This time was no exception. We were dicing, chopping, singing and dancing. Before I knew it, we were finished. It was so much fun that the time just flew right on by. Alex also has an incredible talent for making the table look incredible. I asked if he could set the table once the food was ready. As he started, our first two cousins arrived. They couldn’t believe how good the house smelled. The aroma coming from the kitchen was pretty spectacular. All of those herbs, onions and garlic smelled amazing.
By the time we got to the dining room, Alex had the table looking festive. He even arranged the flowers I bought. I was pleased I gave him this job. I couldn’t have done it this well. Our next cousin arrived and we sat down to enjoy the meal we spent most of the day creating. I don’t eat meat. So, I topped my lettuce with some vegetarian meat and vegetables. All of my cousins made fun of me and said I was really missing out. Theirs did smell much better and looked much more grand. I guess the lamb shanks were incredible. They all told me this. My vegetarian chicken wasn’t so bad either. The wine was perfect, dry and crisp.
In the end, none of this mattered. The most important thing was the family sitting around the table. We were so very happy to be together. We toasted to family and enjoyed the rest of our meal feeling blessed to be under the same roof.
Herb Rubbed Lamb Shanks:
Time: 2 hours
2 teaspoons dried sage
- teaspoon dried thyme
- teaspoon dried marjoram
pinch of pepper
1 clove of garlic
1 tablespoon olive oil
Combine all ingredients and crunch them with a pestle and mortar. Rub this onto the lamb shanks.
4 lamb shanks
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 fennel bulbs, chopped
2 onions, chopped
salt and pepper to taste
3 sprigs rosemary, stems removed
4 sprigs thyme
3 bay leaves
1 cup dry white wine
5 cups chicken stock
1 head of romaine lettuce, torn
Place lamb shanks onto a baking dish. Cover with the rub. You could prepare this the night before, cover them and let them sit in the refrigerator overnight. Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Roast shanks 20 to 25 minutes. Reduce temperature to 325 degrees. In a dutch oven, over medium heat, heat the olive oil. Add fennel and onions. Cook until soft, about fifteen minutes. Season with salt and pepper. Add rosemary, thyme, bay leaves and cook for another two minutes. Add wine and allow this to reduce by half. This will take about ten minutes. Add the stock and bring to boil. Reduce to simmer and add the lamb. Place this into the oven, covered, turning the lamb occasionally for about an hour, until the meat is tender. Pour the strained liquid into a saucepan. Reduce to one cup. Place the lettuce onto four plates. Place the lamb on top and drizzle on the sauce.