Amy Tries Again

Shankin’ – OR – Cooking With Food
December 30, 2012, 8:46 PM
Filed under: Miscellanea

How to cook lamb shanks

1. Preparation

One week beforehand:  Grow dissatisfied with Mi Goreng and leftover Indian delivery food dependency.  Muse on importance of feeding self like proper adult.  Resolve to embrace cooking.  Well, in the new year.  Not NOW.  Order Indian food online.

The morning of:  Rediscover convection oven purchased on a whim several months ago and now residing in its original packaging in a dusty corner of the front sunroom (aka The Room With Junk In It).  Become filled with burning urge to create culinary masterpiece and decide to do so that very night.  Have nice cup of tea.

The (early) afternoon of:  Remain unsure as to what you are actually going to cook.  Google ‘convection oven’.  Wonder why exactly you purchased the thing in the first place (answer: you were at Aldi, it was on special, and you were feeling domestic that day).  Peruse confusing internet discussions about convection microwaves versus halogen convection ovens.  Become overwhelmed.  Ignore problem and google pictures of cats.  Oh, cats!  The things you do!

The (late) afternoon of:  Regain equilibrium.  Decide upon roasting something, mostly because you feel like you might want to eat some potatoes.  As have never cooked a roast before, admire both decision-making prowess and bravery in the field of cooking meat.  Drag self to supermarket with list reading ‘MEAT OF SOME SORT’.  Ignore little voice telling self that a proper dinner-cooking bad-ass would have gone to a real butcher.  Grow disheartened upon discovering the selection of Things For Roasting, as they are all very large.  Realise hearty roasts aren’t really a quick meal for one.  Allow eyes to dart around like those of a frightened rabbit before they land on packet of lamb shanks in a far more manageable size.  Breathe sigh of relief, put lamb shanks in basket and then go to pick over the heavily discounted Christmassy food.  Take your chances with some marked-down butterscotch custard.

2. Cooking

Take stock of ingredients.  Decide against peeling the potatoes.  Unpack cooker.  Realise you should wash it before using it, and almost drop it on own foot whilst doing so.  Remember suddenly that you once impulse purchased a piemaker.  Where is piemaker?  Has piemaker been lost?  You’re sure you used it that one time.  Look for piemaker.  Piemaker remains at large.

Look for camera in order to properly document process for blog.  Camera gone.  Is camera with piemaker?  Find camera.  Drag attention back to task at hand.  Decide to consult the manual for the cooker.  No manual provided.  Google instructions.  Find Youtube video review of convection cooker from a nice man with a broad Australian accent.  His is from Aldi, too!  And he’s cooking lamb shanks!  It all looks fairly easy.  Discover, courtesy of the internet, that countertop convection ovens are quite popular with caravan enthusiasts, and are generally considered foolproof.  You just whack everything in and leave it.  Decide recipes (beyond COOK IT FOR THIS LONG AT THIS TEMPERATURE AND IT MIGHT NOT KILL YOU) are for chumps, preheat the cooker to – um, well, I actually just turned it up as high as it would go and then turned it down a bit – and mentally roll up sleeves.  Discover that cooker lights up very brightly, which is really quite exciting.

Well, I found it exciting.

Well, I found it exciting.

Chop up some potatoes and carrots and green beans and onion, do your standard roast veggie parboiling for the potatoes (and maybe a bit for the carrots, too) and put them on the lower rack with lots of garlic (LOTS of garlic) and herbs (I went with tarragon and lemon pepper because I like tarragon and lemon pepper) and some olive oil.  Remember that for some reason (an impulse kitchen purchase?  NEVER!) you own two silicone basting brushes.  Paint all the vegetables with flavour!  Repeat the process, minus any parboiling, on the higher rack for lamb shanks.  Have stroke of genius and add a hefty glug of wine.

Baste!  BASTE!

Baste! BASTE!

Wait for an hour and a half, mostly because that’s what the man in the youtube video did, and you could just tell that he’s someone’s wacky dad.  Then wait some more – just in case – because you’re mildly paranoid about meat being undercooked.  (While you are waiting, allow the delicious smell to remind you of dinner at your Nanna’s, and hope smugly that your neighbours can smell it in the corridor and are jealous.) Make some super lazy instant gravy, because Rome wasn’t built in a day, you know?

3. Serving

Eat your dinner.


Yay!  (I am not sure why everything looks so yellow.  I was going to fiddle with the camera settings but then I decided that my dinner needed eating.)

It’s delicious, and you are a culinary mastermind and you don’t know why you were nervous about cooking lamb shanks.  Pop the leftovers in the excellent Disney Princess non-Tupperware you got for Christmas and think smugly what a cool dude Future Amy will think you are when she has them for lunch tomorrow.  (The leftovers.  Not the Disney Princesses.)

Wonder where the hell your piemaker is. Consider purchasing a cake pop maker.


3 Comments so far
Leave a comment

This story has a happy ending. 🙂

My housemate and her boyfriend, bust mostly the boyfriend, tend to shop at ALDI a fair bit and there have been some real gems. They hadn’t bought a convection oven as far as I’m aware. The closest we’ve got here is a rice cooker that doubles as a dumpling/fish/chicken/vegetable steamer.

Any ideas on how energy hungry they are compared to an actual oven? They’re certainly heating up a smaller volume of air.

Comment by Sam Clifford

I’m not sure, actually. I have heard that they use less energy, but I have absolutely no figures to back that up. I must find out, I’m quite curious now.

Comment by Amy

Unfortunately this had brought my mind back to the unopened “mini muffin maker” sitting in a cupboard somewhere.

Damn you Aldi and your sexy bargains.

Comment by aarondoyle

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