Posts Tagged ‘braised’

How to Cook a Butt

December 10, 2010

Yesterday, I went to Fresh and Easy and this giant butt was on sale for $2.88. I’ve never cooked a pork butt before, but it was so cheap, I had to buy it.

While I was in the store, I started thinking real hard about what I wanted to go with my butt. I got some onions, garlic, tomato sauce, fire roasted diced tomatoes and whiskey BBQ sauce. I knew I had some Smithwick’s beer at home that I could use too. 

Today I put the butt in the biggest cast iron pot I had, seasoned generously with pepper (no salt!) and then poured all that stuff into the pot and mixed it up.

I covered that pot and put it into a 450F oven for 2 hours. Then I turned the oven down to 200F and left it in another 2 hours. I checked it and there was a lot of liquid, so I took off the cover and put it back in that oven for 2 more hours. It probably only needed another 1/2 hour, but my husband wasn’t home for 2 more hours, so that’s how long it got cooked.

When we finally did eat it, it was tender and delicious and it didn’t need any seasoning! The salt in the tomato products and the BBQ sauce was enough. Unfortunately, I don’t have any pictures of it shredded or pretty on a plate or anything because we were  just too darn hungry and busy eating it!

Cooking this butt was so easy and made a ton of meat. We’ll be eating leftovers this week and I’ll still probably have some left over to freeze. We ate it on hamburger buns like sloppy joes, but you could make BBQ tacos or sandwiches or just eat it with some coleslaw. So the next time you see a giant butt for cheap at the supermarket, don’t be scared of it. Embrace the butt!


Braised Lamb Shanks with Potatoes and Carrots

May 28, 2009

This is not an Armenian recipe or even my Grandmother’s recipe, but I thought I’d share it on here anyway.

A note on using wine when cooking: Feel free to use “2 buck chuck” or any other cheap Cabernet Savignon here, I did. But do not under any circumstances use “cooking wine”. Cooking wine has lots of additives including a whole bunch of salt you don’t need.

3 large or 6 small lamb shanks

vegetable oil to coat pan

1 bottle cabernet savignon

1-2 boxes low sodium fat free beef broth

thyme chopped finely to taste

rosemary chopped finely to taste

zest of 1 orange

1 can low sodium diced tomatoes with juice

1 Tbsp. tomato paste

1 large onion, diced

4 stalks celery, diced

1 leek, diced

2-3 cloves garlic, minced

1 bag baby carrots

6 small red potatoes

salt and pepper to taste

enough flour to dredge the lamb shanks in

enough flat leaf parsley, finely chopped for garnish

Put a pot big enough to hold the lamb shanks, potatoes and carrots on the stove. Spray with cooking spray or add a LITTLE oil and turn the heat to high. In the meantime, combine flour with a little salt and pepper. Dredge the lamb shanks in it and shake off excess. Sear the lamb shanks in the pot over HIGH heat. It will not burn, but it will smoke so make sure you have the fan on and the windows open. Sear on each side. It will stick at first but just leave it on until the meat releases from the pan. Remove meat from pan and set aside.

Spray the pan again or add a little oil. Turn heat down to medium. Add in onions, leeks, celery, orange zest, rosemary and thyme and saute until onions are soft and clear. Add tomato paste and cook for another 1-2 minutes. Add garlic and cook just a few seconds until you start to smell it.

Add entire bottle of wine. Cook until wine reduces a little and all the alcohol is cooked off. This could take a long time so be patient. Keep stirring and scraping up all the stuff that stuck to the bottom of the pan. This is known as “fond” and it is pure flavor.

Add the lamb back to the pan. Add enough beef broth to cover the shanks completely with liquid. Let the liquid come back up to a simmer, cover and cook over low heat for 2 hours.

Add in the potatoes and let cook covered on low for another 1 hour.

Add in the carrots and let cook UNcovered on medium for another 1/2 hour.

If there is still a lot of liquid, uncover, turn up to high and let it reduce until it starts to thicken. Taste for seasoning and add salt. Important: do NOT add salt until the very end. If you add it in the beginning, the sauce will reduce and it will get way too salty.

Yes, it took a long time but you are finally ready to eat and believe me, the time was worth it. Serve up in a bowl with some of the liquid and garnish with parsley. It will be the most tender flavorful lamb you’ve ever had and you just can’t rush it.