Slow cookers are like those reality design shows where a crew swoops into a house while the owner is gone and transforms the place into something completely amazing by the time they get back. With just a little bit of prep work, a slow cooker can take a tougher cut of meat and transform it into tender succulence all while you’re off doing other things.
“Crock Pot” is the brand name for Rival Company’s slow cooker but the two names are interchangeable. Whether it’s a crock pot or a slow cooker, these essential cooking appliances consist of three parts:
1) a metal casing with the heating element and cooking controls
2) a ceremic insert that fits into the metal casing
3) a lid
The heating properties of the ceramic insert is where the slow cooking magic happens. Ceramic conducts heat slowly and gradually. It can keep food warm for several hours without fear of overcooking or scorching. The shortcoming of the insert is that it can’t be used for browning or searing, which is where flavor magic happens. Browning caramelize the sugars and proteins on the surface of meat and vegetables, producing layer upon layer of taste. To ensure a flavorful dish, always sear meat before placing it in the slow cooker.
Lamb Shanks with Garlic and Rosemary
2 tablespoons olive oil, divided
4 lamb shanks seasoned with salt & pepper
2 medium onions, coarsely chopped
1 head of garlic (about 10 cloves), separated into cloves and peeled then coarsely chopped
1 cup dry red wine, divided
2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
1 tablespoon Kosher salt
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 large carrot, peeled and cut into 1/2 inch slices
1 large parsnip, peeled and cut into 1/2 inch slices
Finely grated zest of 1 large lemon
2 tablespoons coarsely chopped rosemary leaves
1) Heat 1 tablespoon olive oil in large heavy skillet over medium-high heat. Brown the lamb shanks on all sides and set aside. Add additional tablespoon of oil to skillet and saute garlic and onions until lightly brown. Remove from pan.
2) Add 1/2 cup of red wine to skillet, scraping up brown bits. Turn heat to high and reduce red wine by half, about 3 minutes. Remove skillet from heat.
3) Mix together remaining 1/2 cup of red wine, mustard, salt and pepper in the slow cooker’s ceramic insert.
4) Layer the shanks in the insert in a single layer. Scatter carrot, parsnip, garlic, onion, rosemary and lemon zest around and on the shanks. Pour red wine reduction over shanks.
5) Cover and cook over low heat for 8-10 hours. Use tongs to transfer shanks to a serviing platter. Skim fat from the cooking juices and season with salt and pepper if needed. Pour juices over shanks and serve.
Makes 4 servings