Pulled Lamb with Peppers and Onions

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Main Courses

Courtesy of Loncito Cartwright, Loncito’s Lamb

Depending on where you are on the veggie-meat sliding scale, you can use lots of meat and few peppers and onions or little meat and lots of peppers and onions. Since I sell lamb at the Austin Farmers’ Market, I would prefer that you use lots of lamb.

Most recipes involve precise amounts of this and that, precise temperatures, precise timing and, like Professor Harold Hill says, “a cool head and a keen eye.” Here we are not creating a Vermeer; we are creating a Jackson Pollock—at the end of this process my wife says our kitchen floor looks like a Jackson Pollock painting.

Fairly difficult

Pulled Lamb with Peppers and Onions

Ingredients

For 2 Person(s)

Cream

  • 2 pounds Loncito’s Lamb shanks
  • 3 pounds farmers market peppers (the local equivalent of Anaheim/Hatch peppers, hot to HOT)
  • 2 large farmers market onions
  • your choice of spices
  • olive oil
  • bouillon

Pulled Lamb with Peppers and Onions Directions

  1. Dealing with the Lamb. Use shanks (foreshanks or hind shanks). These cuts have the “pulled” or shredded meat texture that goes great with the peppers. Put a little olive oil in your biggest, deepest frying pan and braise (seal by browning) the shanks on all sides. To get the complete cut braised, I end up standing the cuts on their ends where they lean into each other, a skill I learned making tepees of kindling to start fires in the Boy Scouts.
  2. For most of the process, cover the pan with a lid bigger than the pan—otherwise you create a Jackson Pollock on the wall adjacent to the stove. Take the meat out and store in a preheated slow cooker (or in a Dutch oven in a low-heat oven).
  3. Dealing with the peppers. Typically, peppers come in two varieties, sort-of-hot and HOT. Buy the peppers in the hot/HOT mix you like. Cut the top off each pepper, slit down the sides, and clean out (and discard) the ribs and seeds. Cut up the cleaned peppers into inch or half-inch lengths and put in the food processor, whir the blade until the peppers are sliced up to sizes that vary from almond to rice kernel.
  4. Put the processed peppers in the empty deep-dish pan used for the lamb, or new deep-dish pan with enough melted butter to form a film across the base of the pan. Sauté over medium heat with minimal attention so you can switch to:
  5. Dealing with the Onions. This process is much quicker. Peel off the outer onion layer, cut up in chunks, whir in the processor until you get pieces that vary in size from walnut to almond (a few larger pieces are fine) and dump out onto the sautéing peppers. Stir, then ignore, while you are:
  6. Doing the Creative Part: Preparing and Tossing in your Favorite Herbs. I usually take 5 to 6 large cloves of garlic, squeeze in the hard-to-clean-out thingy, sauté the garlic in a small saucepan until brown, then toss on the peppers and onions and mix. I think most recipes have you do this in the veggie pan first, but hey, the point is you can’t mess this up. It works no matter what you do. I take about 2 to 3 inches of ginger, peel it, cut it up in chocolate-chip size bits and toss in the food processor. Leave this running while you switch to adding whatever else you want. I also add a jigger or two of chopped fresh oregano (the jigger is used at the start of the process for another purpose and is handy). I then stir up the veggie and herb mix, and switch to:
  7. Preparing Some Vegetable Stock. I am not sure you need this, but I did this once for some soup and it seems a useful step. I take a vegetable bouillon cube, boil it with 1 cup of water in a microwave and then put it, boiling, on the peppers, onions and herbs. Or make your own from scratch, which is another story.
  8. Look Around the Kitchen to See What You Forgot. Shut off the whirring food processor and scrape out the ginger into the mix.
  9. Wait Around Until the Mix Comes to a Simmering Boil. Oh, I forgot the red wine. Add some red wine. Wait around until the mix comes again to a simmering boil.
  10. Assemble. Add (A) the simmering vegetable mix to (B) the meat already in (C) the heated slow cooker or (alternative C) in the Dutch oven in the electric or gas oven on low heat (250°). Easy as ABC! At this point the last time I did this, my wife walked by and asked if I added salt. I never add salt, but I don’t mind it, so I handed her the salt shaker and the pepper mill and she did the “salt and pepper to taste” step.
  11. Cook 4 to 6 hours or Longer. Fish the meat out of the cooker onto a cutting board. The bones will fall off the meat (or the meat will fall off the bones, depending upon what you grab when you lift). Take a fork and a knife and pull the meat apart until it takes on a shredded meat texture (no food processor here!). Stir around the cooker once all the meat is out with a long fork, feel for small bones, and remove.
  12. Put a strainer in a large bowl. Put the shredded meat back in the cooker, and pour the whole contents over the strainer. Immediately lift the strainer and empty the vegetable and meat mixture from the strainer back into the cooker or serving dish. The drained liquid can be put in the refrigerator, where the fat will congeal on the surface. The fat can be removed and the liquid added to the next batch in lieu of the vegetable stock.
  13. Serve the lamb, pepper and onion mix over pasta or rice, put in tacos, etc.

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