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Oct '13

Dinner With Dwight.

Time to start tackling the to-do list from Jim and I’s business meeting a while back. Today will be the second attempt to make a rolling wine rack for the shop. We will eventually need seven of time. The prototype I hacked together last week was too tall and didn’t offer enough storage — so much for the easy way. Looks like almost from scratch.

Picked up a ½” 4×4 sheet of plywood at Home Depot to go with the casters I picked up last week at Lowes. A couple of cuts, a lot of glue and nail gun work, and this is the result of a couple of hours of work:

The space below the bottles it turns out with hold two cases side to side.

On the way aback from working in the garage I noticed that my quince tree had all this downed fruit:

Normally I get like two quince in a season – must have been the warm weather this summer. They are still tiny, but I was thinking about making a quince infused moonshine. Thoughts?

After that was built and the glue drying it was off to see how the bridge work is coming – they announced that the other leaf of the bridge would be mounted today:

And before you knew it was time to start working on dinner. Dinner with Dwight tonight – and a fancy dinner it is. Seattle restaurateur Tom Douglas’ Braised Lamb Shank recipe that he modified for Amtrak to use on the Coast Starlight. I thought I’d shared the recipe before but couldn’t find it on the blog so here it is:

Amtrak’s braised lamb shanks with Portobello mushroom, tomatoes and oregano

Total time: 3 hours

Servings: 4

Note: Amtrak serves the lamb shanks with garlic mashed potatoes and an array of vegetables.

4 (1 pound each) bone-in lamb shanks, well-trimmed

1/4 cup canola oil, divided

Kosher salt

Freshly ground black pepper

1/2 cup finely dice red onion

2 large Portobello mushroom caps, gills removed, cut in medium dice

2 tablespoons minced garlic

3/4 cup dry red wine

2 tablespoons chopped fresh oregano leaves, preferably Greek

1 1/2 cups (8 ounces) diced plum tomatoes in tomato juice

3 cups beef demi-glace (or 3 cups beef broth thickened with a slurry of 2 tablespoons each cornstarch and cold water)

2 bay leaves

1. Heat the oven to 350 degrees. In a large mixing bowl, toss the lamb shanks with 1 tablespoon oil, one-half teaspoon salt and one-fourth teaspoon pepper.

2. Heat a large, heavy-bottomed sauté pan over medium heat until hot. Add the oil, and when the oil is hot add the lamb shanks in a single layer (do this in batches, if necessary). Brown the shanks uniformly on all sides, then remove the shanks to an appropriate casserole or braising pan with a tight-fitting lid.

3. Pour off and discard any excess fat, leaving only 1 to 2 tablespoons in the pan. Add the onion and mushroom and cook over medium heat, stirring occasionally, for 4 to 5 minutes, then stir in the garlic. Cook another minute, stirring, so that the garlic does not burn. Add the red wine, bring to a near boil, and reduce the liquid by two-thirds. Stir in the oregano, tomatoes with juice and the demi-glace. Bring the mixture to a boil, remove from the heat and pour over the lamb shanks. Add the bay leaves and cover the lamb tightly with the lid.

4. Transfer the lamb to the oven and cook for 1 hour, then reduce the heat to 300 degrees and continue to cook the lamb until it is fork tender but not falling off the bone, about 1 additional hour.

5. Remove the casserole and allow the lamb to cool , uncovered, for 15 minutes. Remove each shank to a serving dish and cover with foil. Remove the bay leaves from the casserole and discard.

6. Skim any fat from the top of the sauce. Check the consistency of the sauce (it should be the consistency of heavy cream). If the sauce is too thin, reduce it on the stove-top until it is the proper consistency. This makes about 2½ cups sauce. Taste the sauce, adjusting the seasoning as desired, then pour over the lamb shanks and serve.

Each serving: 730 calories; 74 grams protein; 33 grams carbohydrates; 2 grams fiber; 34 grams fat; 11 grams saturated fat; 30 mg cholesterol; 4 grams sugar; 1,795 mg sodium.

Mind you on Amtrak it’s done using sous-vide cooking (“20 hours at a precise 160 degrees”).

Between doing the lamb shanks (three hours) and the fresh baked bread (two hours, though with overlap with the lamb), it’s a more involved meal than I normally do. Add a salad and a nice bottle of wine and you have a fine meal – and with Dwight staying in the guest room tonight, no worries about driving.


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