Happy New Year!
Can you believe it's 2013?
Reflecting back, this holiday "break" has been really different from most holiday breaks I've had in years past. One major difference is that for the first time since we've been married, Bryan and I did not go back to California to visit his parents.
We had spent three weeks traveling around Australia and New Zealand with them in November, and essentially we had used up almost all of our vacation days for that trip.
So this holiday season, we spent a few days in Ohio with my parents before coming back to Boston to just chill at home.
After traveling so much, it was actually really, really nice to finally be at home. I felt like I hadn't seen my kitchen in ages. It was fun to finally, finally, experiment in the kitchen again. I cooked, baked, and did all sorts of fun things that I haven't had time to do in months.
I can't wait to share some of those kitchen exploits with you in the next few weeks.
For today though, I just wanted to share with you the insanely delicious (and easy!) dish I made for our New Years Eve dinner.
I have a friend Peter who's really into wine. I may have told you about him before. He's been collecting wine for years and is always looking for fun and creative ways to showcase the wines.
This year for New Years Eve he decided he wanted to do a French Bordeaux tasting.
He prepared an excellent presentation about the wine region in general, and we had an education tasting, I guess you could say.
It was a potluck style dinner, and therefore each person was responsible for bringing some sort of dish that would pair with Bordeaux. More than once, Peter not-so-subtly hinted at me that I should really make a lamb dish.
"I know you don't like lamb," he wrote, "but it's a great application for the pressure cooker."
It's true. I don't love that game-y distinct flavor of lamb, though I often eat it since Bryan loves is to much. And I agree, lamb is probably one of the best meats with which to pair French Bordeaux.
So I buckled under pressure. We also happened to find these lovely lamb osso buco pieces at Costco , which helped seal the deal.
I decided to try out my new pressure cooker, a gift from Bryan not too long ago (more on that soon!).
This dish is pretty straightforward and doesn't take that long if you have a pressure cooker. If you don't have a pressure cooker, it's still easy, but just takes a couple more hours.
Sear the osso buco pieces until they are nicely browned on all sides. Remove from the pot.
Cook your lovely mirepoix ingredients - carrots, celery, and onions plus some garlic until soft.
Deglaze with wine. We went with a very good but not insanely expensive Carbernet-Merlot blend (2009 Château de France, Pessac-Léognan WS 93). According to Peter, you should never cook with a wine that you would not be willing to drink. The quality of the wine most certainly affects the flavor of your dish.
After about 40 minutes in the pressure cooker, the lamb becomes fall-off-the-bone tender. I removed the meat and further reduced the liquid until it was slightly thick, like a nice, hearty sauce.
When I tasted the "sauce", I felt that it needed something to round it out a bit, so I melted just 2 tablespoons of butter into the mix. Finally, in order to brighten it up just a bit, I added a splash of sweet balsamic vinegar (the good thick stuff you usually eat with strawberries!).
Serve with gremolata, which further brightens the dish up perfectly.
The dish was fantastic. The flavors were deep and hearty, yet well balanced by the brightness of the gremolata. I'm sure the fact that I used really good wine added to the beautiful flavors of the dish.
I would absolutely make this again, especially since I can make the entire dish in an hour with a pressure cooker!
Pressure Cooker Braised Lamb Osso Buco
4 pieces lamb osso buco
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 onion, chopped
1 cup celery, chopped
1 cup carrots, chopped
4 cloves garlic, coarsely chopped
2-3 cups wine (can be white, red, or a mix of both)
1-2 T tomato paste
2-3 cups chicken stock (or enough to cover the shanks in the pan)
2 bay leaves
1 sprig of rosemary
2 tablespoons butter
1 -2 teaspoon sweet balsamic vinegar (optional)
Make sure pressure cooker pot is big enough to comfortably fit all the osso buco.
Over medium-high heat in the pressure cooker pot, sear all sides of the lamb osso buco in olive oil until browned. Remove from the pot. To the oil in the pan, add the chopped onion, celery, carrots, and garlic and cook until browned and aromatic (~20 minutes). Add the tomato paste and mix well. Add wine, turn up the heat, and deglaze the pan. Let the mixture cook for about 5-10 minutes to boil off some of the alcohol. Add the osso buco pieces back in, and pour in the chicken broth and tomato paste. Make sure that the meat is covered (or at least mostly covered) in liquid. Add bay leaves and rosemary. Cover and cook at the "1 red ring" level (around 0.4 bar (5.8 psi)) for about 45 minutes.
Release the pressure and remove the meat.
Making the "demi-glace"
Reduce the remaining liquid on medium-high heat until it is almost sauce-like. If you think the sauce needs to be rounded out or brightened up, add butter (to round out) and/or sweet balsamic vinegar (to brighten). I added both, but it may depend on the nature of your broth, wine, lamb etc.
Serve the osso bucco with the sauce, optionally topped with gremolata.
For starch, consider serving with saffron rice or roasted potatoes.
If you don't have a pressure cooker, you can also make this dish in the oven. Check out my post on oven-braised lamb shanks. If you would prefer to make it over the stove top, check out my Milanese Veal Osso Buco post which uses that method.
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