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Tools To Soften Stiff Necks

March 16, 2018

Last night I saw Burnt My Fingers and he gave me a piece of his cheese bread. Once this is done, I’m going to warm it up in the oven and eat it for breakfast. And I cannot even begin to tell you how happy this makes me.

Bread. I love it. So much. But I’m not a baker.

Maybe, I should say, “I’m not a baker…yet.” The family has been watching the Great British Baking Show, and it has been inspiring to my wife and daughter. And I suppose, we could create a culture of family baking at some point down the road.

But there’s this level of precision that seems to be required in baking that I just no longer have the desire to achieve. At one point in my life I lived by recipes, measured out ingredients, and followed steps to the letter.

Now I kinda just go with my gut. Which is exactly what I did with a bunch of necks.

So there I was at Whole Foods, minding my own business, when I happened to spy something interesting in the meat case. There was a whole heap of lamb necks. And not just any lamb necks. These were Animal Welfare Rated #4!

I wish I knew what that meant. But the scale only goes to five. And five is the most ethically pure meat known to Whole Foods. We don’t see a lot of fours and fives in the case up here in the Capital Region. So this was a pretty big deal.

Lamb necks are awesome, and these weren’t super expensive. So I bought them all.

All, wasn’t all that many. It was just about a pound and a half. And don’t forget that lamb necks have a lot of bone on them. These were destined to become a super delicious lamb curry, served alongside a simple dal and Mrs. Fussy’s favorite chana masala.

Do you have a lamb curry recipe?

I don’t. But my lamb curry is slamming. It’s also different every time. Although I always do the same things:

– Brown the meat
– Deglaze the pan with a crap ton of finely chopped onion
– Add some kind of Indian spice blend that smells right for lamb
– Mix in yogurt
– Thin with stock or water
– Add the meat back into the pan, and braise with love

When it’s super tender, I take out the meat, puree the onions, and reduce the braising liquid a bit more. Sometimes I might freshen up the spices with a bit of the spice blend mixed into some additional yogurt.

While this is going on, I’ll remove the meat from the bones. This is when I can also remove any large pieces of fat, and nosh on any stray pieces of tendon the family won’t enjoy.

At the end, I put everything back into the pot to warm. Easy peasy.

Amazingly, the Instant Pot is pretty darn good at helping with this process. I started with a deep All Clad pan on the stovetop for browning the meat and deglazing with the onions. Plus the braising liquid was built in that same pan on the stove. But from there, I poured everything into the Instant Pot to pressure cook those necks into submission.

In just 45 minutes, I was able to get much more flavor out of those bones, and soften the meat to an advanced enough degree that getting it pulled off easily. The high sauté feature of the Instant Pot helped to cook down the braising liquid, while the chunks of meat cooled enough to be picked apart by hand. Before adding the meat back to the pot, I took my handy dandy immersion blender to the meltingly soft onions, just to make Mrs. Fussy happy.

Then to get everything to meld together, I set the device to work as a slow cooker.

By the time it was ready, it was time for me to leave for a Yelp event. I was able to snag a bite before heading out, and it was totally delicious. More than anything, this dish was a thank you to my family for hanging tight while I’m off on all kinds of shenanigans.

Hope you already have the Tour de Slice, The Jewish Food Festival, Yelp Restaurant Week, and Queens Day on your radar.

Queens Day? Okay. We’ll have to talk about that more next week. See you soon.

One Comment leave one →
  1. March 16, 2018 10:38 am

    Did you know you can bake in the Instant Pot? Google Instant Pot Cheesecake #17.

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