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For Want of a Bone, a Day Was Lost

April 18, 2017

In theory, tonight after sundown I could enjoy some of the fun from Albany Craft Beer Week. But tonight, I’m going to celebrate the end of Passover with my family. I think it might be a big meal of pasta with bolognese. It may even be the last of the bolognese I made over the winter from Bella Terra ground beef.

More importantly though, it means that it will be another year before you have to hear me gripe any more about missing out on bread, beer, and whiskey.

But before we close the chapter on this year’s holiday season, I did want to share with you the story of the lamb shank. Mostly because at the end of it, you’ll likely have a new technique for cooking a leg of lamb.

That is, of course, unless you’re Greek. And you’ve already known this for years, but for some reason, have been holding off on sharing the secret with me and the gang.

First, we have to go back to the Passover dinner.

One of the ritual objects we need every year is a roasted lamb shank bone. It’s a little grisly, but we’re supposed to remember how our ancient ancestors were instructed to mark their doors with lamb blood in order to prevent the angel of death from killing the firstborn son of the household.

It sounds a lot crazier when I write it down than it does in the context of the story.

Anyhow. So here I am in Price Chopper, looking for a shank bone the day before Passover. The thing is that every Jewish household hosting a holiday meal needs one too. And there are only so many bones on the market at any given time.

In the absence of any available last minute shank bones, I do what any self respecting, food loving blogger would do in the same situation: buy an entire bone-in leg of lamb. The fact that it was $4 a pound for Australian grass fed lamb made it an easier decision.

When I brought it home, I sharpened my knife, deboned that sucker and vacuum sealed the meat. The bone was roasted on my shitty gas grill, which amazingly made it through another winter.

Now the question is what to do with an entire deboned leg of lamb. Well, I had an idea.

After the City Beer Hall Yelp Event, I had Greek-style, slow roasted, meltingly tender and well done lamb on the mind. So I reached out to chef Dimitrios who told me he would be more than willing to share his recipe. But it would take him some time. It is Albany Craft Beer Week, after all.

Not to mention Easter. Plus D had some pop up meals on his calendar. The fellow is a busy man. But that meant I would be left to my own devices.

A long time ago, I used to carefully research dishes before I jumped in and made one. Those days are gone. It would be nice if I had time for that, but I don’t. So I went online and punted. The recipe I decided to follow looked like this.

The fact that it takes a day to make wasn’t daunting. It did, however, mean that we couldn’t eat the lamb on Sunday night for Easter. That’s because the temperature outside hit the 80s this past weekend, and if I ran the oven all day, Mrs. Fussy would have my head.

Luckily, Monday was more temperate, and I was able to do this as a background project all day while I worked on other things.

Was the lamb perfect? Certainly not. But I think it was a respectable first go. More than anything else, it proved to Mrs. Fussy that seven hour lamb can be meltingly tender, and that there’s another way of roasting this cut of meat other than the fast, high-heat roast that at one point was my signature dish (some fifteen years ago).

Even the kids loved it. We ate through a shocking quantity of the joint, but we did package up the leftovers in vacuum bags and put them in the freezer. Now it’s like money in the bank.

Still, the lamb Dimitrios made was better. When he sends me that recipe, and I get a chance to make it, I’ll let you know.

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