Shoulder Season

While the garden is just beginning—tiny sprouts popping up over the last couple of days in the early beds—the lawn is nobly stepping up to shoulder the verdant burden of providing actual green things with which to adorn our dinner these days. The chervil deserves mention, since it always bounces back from winter faster than anything else, and provides great garnishes right out of the gate, but the wild garlic takes the prize for the most useful wild plant in both early spring and late fall (and winter, really, as long as there’s not so much snow that it can’t be seen).

I had a bunch of the garlic chives already picked and washed from the day before, as well as a roughly equal pile of chervil. These lamb shanks were on the menu, along with the last of the overwintered parsnips, so I thought of a way to combine all the greens into something more integrated into the dish than just delicate embellishment. A vinaigrette seemed like a good solution, so I put them all in the blender with good oil, cider vinegar, a clove of garlic, and a spoon of mustard and let it whirl. I made extra because I figured it wouldn’t suck to have a jar of it on hand.

The shanks went in the pressure cooker with stock I made from two grilled chicken (spatchcocked, with a spice rub) carcasses and the bones and trimmings from a ribeye. After browning the shanks (in strained fat I skimmed off that stock while it simmered) I also added mirepoix, 5-spice, smoked paprika, fish sauce, saffron, a chile de arbol, several cloves of garlic, a thumb of ginger, and a few sprigs each of thyme and rosemary. This hissed for about 45 minutes, at which point I strained the liquid and reduced it with a bit of cream to thicken.

So: parsnips puréed with yogurt, then some medium-shreddy meat, then the jus, then spoonings of herb vinaigrette, and last some pickled wild garlic from last spring as a garnish. It’s hard to exaggerate how prolific and useful this herb is. I wrote a post about it exactly three years ago that goes into much more detail. There’s a pint each of the vinaigrette and the jus left over, which will be perfect building blocks for a lazy weeknight meal or ideal enhancements for an epic feast.

And yes, they were shanks, not shoulder, but Jonny left a comment on the last post that seemed like a good fit with this food.

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One Comment

  1. April 17

    Surprised but heartened to have been part of your creative process, if unwittingly. Thanks for the shout-out!

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