If you’re cooking for flavor, I believe time is your greatest advocate. I know a lot of people are getting into pressure cookers, or insta-pots, but there is something about the traditional way of cooking that won’t disappoint. Utilize time and allow simple ingredients to infuse your food, building upon itself minute after minute, hour after hour, incredible flavor.
Here are my tips for effortlessly adding tons of flavor and tenderness to your choice of protein. Let time do all the work!
- Marinade in vinegar. This actually begins the ”cooking” process. No at this point your choice of protein is not in an oven, but by marinating your meat in vinegar, the digestive or breaking down process begins. The vinegar softens and tenderizes the meat without the risk of overcooking. This works wonders if you find yourself with a particularly tough cut of meat, but dont want to heat up the oven for 12 hours and end up with jerky.
- Salt well in advance. This rule does not apply to all choices of protein. Chicken and Lamb do really well salted ahead of time where as steak and pork render more tender of a product when salted just before cooking. The salt on your lamb shanks will allow for your meat to retain moisture, the same way your body reacts to lots of salt by water retention, resulting in a melt in your mouth experience!
- Braise or broil before beginning the slow cook. You want to ensure that all the delicious flavor you’ve worked so hard to culminate in your meat stays there. By braising or broiling the meat before it begins to cook, you will seal in the salt and vinegar, allowing them to work for your advantage during the cooking process.
- Let your meat rest. The point of this is to allow the meat to cool down, so it can retain the liquid that is in the meat. When slicing into a hot piece of protein, you will notice the juices from that meat pouring out onto the surface of your block. That is because meat struggles to hold onto moisture at that temperature. By allowing your protein to cool, it will be able to maintain the moisture that got heated during the cooking process, resulting in a much more juicy product.
For this particular recipe:
- Marinade the lamb shanks for 8 hours in Red Wine Vinegar and Salt. Adding herbs/seasonings at this time is also appropriate. (Thyme, Rosemary, Mustard, Harissa, Cumin to name a few.)
- Broil the lamb at 450 degrees for about 15 minutes.
- Turn the oven down to 300 degrees and cook covered for 3 hours. Be sure to keep some liquid in the pan to ensure the legs dont dry out. You can use additional vinegar here, or bone broth to infuse more flavor.
- Let the lamb rest for 15 minutes before slicing.