I have all these meat-centric posts backing up—one of everything, really—and surprisingly little to say about them, so I think maybe the best thing to do is combine them all in one big carnivorous post, Leftover Night style.
This was our New Year’s meal for 2011: your basic braised brisket and gravy over shiitake polenta, with a side of sauteed cabbage. I wanted to have some greens on the plate since they traditionally represent fortune, and although green cabbage is not the greenest green per se, it is probably one of my favorite vegetables; just slice it thin and dump it in a big covered skillet or wok with a knob of butter and a little water, tossing it around occasionally, until it is all wilty and luscious. The brisket was good too, very tender, and I actually saved out half of the cut to try my hand at corned beef, currently corning away in my refrigerator for a post in a few weeks.
This was another one of those little pork sirloin tip roasts from Costco. I used a Melissa d’Arabian recipe called “herb-crusted pork loin,” but this was actually more of a spice-and-crumb-crusted meal, if you ask me. Okay, so I left the cilantro out of the crust—I still wouldn’t have considered it “herb-crusted.” But despite that minor blip, this was a very tasty recipe, very moist and savory, and the crumb crust on the pork was almost thick enough to give off a stuffing vibe.
The crust didn’t really want to stay on the pork once sliced, so I just piled it up around the meat, along with some skillet broccoli and muffin-cup gratins, another Melissa d’Arabian recipe and one of my husband’s very favorite applications of potatoes.
This meal was just a roasted chicken with my basic mustard gravy and skillet Brussels sprouts. Tasty as both of those were, the real item of interest on the plate is the mash, which is actually a blend of rutabaga and ginger-roasted pears. Rutabaga takes decidedly longer than potato to soften up, and after the better part of an hour, the texture of the finished mash was still not quite as silky as I was hoping for, but the flavor was good, particularly in concert with the savory gravy.
And that brings us back up to the present, and a Dutch oven full of lamb shanks braised with lentils and curry. My overflowing freezer is badly in need of some relief, so last night I pulled out a package of lamb shanks that I bought at the farmer’s market a few months back from a local purveyor. Having just braised that brisket a few nights before, I wanted a slightly different flavor profile, and the curry certainly adds that, though its presence is a more subtle undertone than I would have guessed; it also gave the braising liquid a gorgeous, rich color. After two and a half hours, the shanks were fall-off-the-bone tender; we actually gave the bones to our German shepherd, who was in bliss for a few minutes before they started splintering and had to be thrown away. I used only half a cup of Puy lentils, and they miraculously expanded into about four portions’ worth; the leftovers were fantastic simply spooned over rice. Finally, I paired it up with some skillet broccoli dressed with a brown butter-apple cider vinaigrette, made with my homemade fruit scrap vinegar.