NOT JUST APPLE PIE + LAMB SHANKS!
There’s nothing better than apple picking on a cool Fall weekend with the fam! As I get older, I totally geek out about stuff like that (who knew?). Now, if only the weather would cooperate...I have my favorite spot up in Warwick, NY, which, coincidentally, also happens to be a vineyard with wine tasting. Because tipsy apple picking is even better! Just joking (sort of).
There are so many different varieties of apples to choose from that I’m so glad they have maps and descriptions of each apple. I tend to get overly excited and end up with WAY too many apples when I get home! So after lugging pounds of different apple varieties home, I'm always thinking about what to do besides, of course, the mandatory pie or crisp. I love a good apple butter to keep for later, and I freeze off batches of applesauce for the chickadee.
I put together a few ideas for you, and, further down, is a yummy recipe for Honey-Braised Lamb Shanks with Butternut Squash and Apples, which is basically a tagine and seriously delicious. Enjoy!
HONEY-BRAISED LAMB SHANKS WITH BUTTERNUT SQUASH AND APPLES
This lamb dish is based on North African tagines, which slow-braise lamb and other meats with both sweet and salty elements. While many tagines feature apricots, prunes, or raisins, I thought seasonal butternut squash and apples would provide the perfect sweet counterbalance to the spiced braise. I use lamb shank here because I love the flavor and the end result – spoonable, fall-off-the-bone meat in a rich stew.
2-3 tablespoons canola oil
2 ½ pounds lamb shanks (approximately 2 shanks), room temperature
1 large onion, cut into a medium dice
4 cloves garlic, minced
½ teaspoon ground ginger
large pinch saffron
1 ½ teaspoons cinnamon
4 cups beef or chicken stock
1 tablespoon honey
2 cups butternut squash, cut into a ¾” inch dice
1 ½ cups honeycrisp or fuji apple, cut into a ¾” inch dice
¼ cup sliced almonds, toasted
1 ½ teaspoons sesame seeds, toasted
Salt and freshly ground pepper
Preheat the oven to 325° F.
Heat a Dutch oven or large pot over medium-high heat. Add the oil, season the shanks generously with salt and freshly ground pepper, and sear 2 to 3 minutes per side to develop a nice brown. Remove to a plate and reduce the heat to medium-low.
Add the onion and a bit of salt and sauté for 5 to 7 minutes until the onions are translucent. Add the garlic, ginger, saffron and cinnamon and sauté for another 30 seconds to a minute until fragrant. Nestle the lamb shanks back in the pot, and add in the stock and the honey. Cover, bring up to a boil and then place in the oven.
Cook for 2 hours and 15 minutes and then remove from the oven. Toss in the squash, apples and half of the almonds. Cover and put back in the oven for the next 45 minutes to an hour. The meat should be spoonable, basically falling off the bone.
Serve hot, garnished with the remaining toasted, sliced almonds and sesame seeds. This is great alongside couscous.