This was prolly the most challenging recipe I have ever had the pleasure of attacking. To be honest, I don’t consider myself to be really skilled in the kitchen, and this crazy-ass recipe sure as hell kept my kitchen ego in check. In total, the whole experience (and I call it an experience because at one point I was so frustrated I thought I was hallucinating) lasted a total of 8 hours. 8 hours of cooking. For one dish. 8 hours. I warned you.
In the end, the result was impressive. People who didn’t even like lamb got into it. Nobody was freaked out by the pink ‘frosting’, they just dug in. And it was crazy delicious and totally worth all the effort. So, if you’re like me and have relatively low self-esteem and enjoy the odd compliment, I recommend this to you. I also recommend this recipe to anyone who likes a challenge. This recipe will test your patience, gross factor (when you get to the part of ripping the meat off the bone, the shank joints un-hinge), and altogether will to live/survive.
Anyone who can complete this one head-to-toe deserves a Nobel Peace Prize award with joint recognition in the Olympics.
Admittedly, I wasn’t able to make mine as beautiful as the file photo above as my star-tip jammed and basically broke my piping slash ziplock bag. Awesome.
Along the way, you’ll see my attempts. Be gentle. I also had to double the amount suggested in the recipe below because I had to make this for my mum’s birthday dinner with around 15 guests.
Good luck to those brave enough and God-speed.
For the lamb cupcakes
- 4 lamb shanks
- Salt and freshly ground pepper
- ¼ cup of plain flour, for dusting
- 7 tablespoons of canola oil, divided
- 2 onions, chopped and divided
- 2 carrots, sliced
- 2 stalks celery, sliced
- ½ a bottle of dry red wine
- 4 cups of chicken stock
- 8 sprigs fresh rosemary, divided
- 6 sprigs fresh thyme
- ½ a head of garlic, chopped
- 1 cup of breadcrumbs
- 2 eggs, lightly beaten
- Muffin tin
- 8 cupcake liners
- Vegetable oil spray for the liners
For the ‘icing’
- 4 medium Russet potatoes, peeled and cut in quarters
- 1 roasted beet
- ¼ cup half-and-half cream, at room temperature
- ¼ cup of butter, at room temperature
For the lamb cakes:
1. Preheat the oven to 300F. Season the lamb shanks with salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste, and dust with flour.
2. In a large frying pan, over medium-high, heat 3 tablespoons of the oil. Add the lamb shanks and brown all 4 sides for about 2 minutes each side. Remove the shanks from the pan and set aside.
3. Heat another tablespoon of oil in a separate sauté pan, over a medium-high heat, and lightly fry half of the onion, and all of the carrots and celery for about 6 minutes (or until they just begin to brown). While the vegetables are frying, heat the stock.
4. Pour the chicken stock into the pan in which you browned the lamb, stir up the brown bits off the base of the pan with a wooden spoon and bring the stock to the boil. Transfer the lamb shanks to a roasting tin and pour the wine, hot stock and vegetables on top.
5. Scatter the herbs over the top and tightly cover with tin foil. Reserve half of the rosemary, chop it up and set aside. Braise the shanks in the oven for 3 ½ hours; then remove the foil and continue cooking for 30 more minutes – at this point lamb should be tender and falling off the bone. While the shanks are braising, throw in the beetroot to cook for 90 minutes, or until tender.
6. When the meat is cooked, pick the meat from the bones and cut it into small pieces with tongs and a fork. You may want to go through the meat again to make sure the meat is in a uniform size and cut down the pieces with a knife if needed. Strain the juices into a clean pan, discarding the vegetables and bones. Wait a few minutes so you can skim most of the fat off of the top. Then bubble the juices over a high heat to reduce to a thick sauce, about a third of it’s original state. This should take close to an hour. Reserve demi-glace.
7. Heat the remaining oil in a frying pan, add the rest of the onion and the chopped garlic and fry until deep brown in colour, until basically caramalized.
8. Tip the fried onions and garlic into a mixing bowl, add the meat, sauce, breadcrumbs, egg and chopped remaining rosemary. Mix well.
9. Transfer the mixture into a 12-hole cup cake tin and bake for 12 minutes
For the ‘icing’:
1. steam the potatoes over a large pan of boiling salted water until tender. With a potato masher or ricer, mash the potatoes, adding the cream and butter to smoothen.
2. Grate about a tablespoon of the roasted beet using a fine grater. Stir through the roasted beetroot and season, to taste, with salt and freshly ground black pepper. Put the ‘icing’ into a piping bag and use a star-tip for a fancy look. Use the ‘icing’ to decorate the lamb cakes and serve.
Haha this is when it broke. I tried to get my mum’s friend who is an actual chef to help me pipe, but no luck. At this point I just needed to get the damn cupcakes out so I took a spoon and scooped on the ‘icing’.
Et voila, they were finished. I was so tired; I don’t think I ate one until the next day. Save the extra demi-glace to pour over if you like calories and flavour. P.s., you don’t have to do this all in one day. You can make the actual lamb cupcake part ahead of time. That’s the most challenging part. I think it was a marathon because I had to prepare a bunch of other dishes, but if you were only to do this with like a salad, or have a sous chef, it might be a little bit more enjoyable.