October 11, 2007
One day, the day we have to be the butcher, we pay the consequences of being self-sufficient. Yes, we grow our own vegetables and yes we raise our own sheep, cows and chickens for meat supplies, yet we still have to learn the basic skill of butchering.
I'm pretty much familiar with doing the chickens, but sheep or cows? I can't even stand to see blood. My husband is much more of a learner himself, and observer by nature, I suppose. He is still practicing with trial and error, but that's just a good start. The working hours have started and we have finished with the messy parts, and yet we're still staring at the table. How are we going to do it? Which part are we going to start cutting first?
Anyway, to answer all of those questions, we finally download illustrations of parts of the body. Oh, that is sirloin, right, so that's the flaps, and that's the other parts. And those ones are the chops (do you know which parts of lamb/sheep which are called chops? I didn't care before, but now I do). Frankly, we could not imagine how hard it was to cut in between the ribs, just to make a lovely shape of mutton-racks. Must be a tough job being a butcher, I wonder. This then would make us appreciate the work of butchers.
However, we were getting on and on with a bit of trial and error and limited skill of butchering... using the improper knives.
Well, that was not too bad. At least, we got most of the fat off. Although the shapes are not as neat as those in the proper butcher shop, we eventually made it! Although the portions were cut up not as neatly as the butchers' best works, we were glad we finally did all the parts, wash them clean, put them in separate bags, mark the date, and threw them all into the deep freezer. Until the next time we've got to do it all over again, it must not be as hard as we've started. Well, at least that's the theory.
One of the bags I took out and recognized they were the shanks. Right. We're likely going to have shanks stew. It is just good eaten with herbed mashed potatoes and greens. You can add or replace some amount of stock and water with red wine, some say it's more delicious that way. I stick with stock and water. I used plenty of herbs, though. I love the lovely fragrance of bouquet garni in the flavour.
Mutton Shanks Stew
2 mutton shanks,
300g meat from mutton flaps, cubed,
1 onion, finely chopped,
3 cloves garlic, finely chopped,
2 carrots, sliced,
2 leeks, chopped,
3 courgettes, sliced,
make a bouquet garni of two sprigs of flat-leaf parsley, 2 sprigs of thyme, and 1 sprig of rosemary,
2 tomatoes, chopped,
1 can tomatoes in natural juice,
beef stock and water,
freshly cracked salt and black pepper,
olive oil for cooking
Heat the oil. Brown the meat and meat cubes. Set aside. Wipe out the grease and heat another fresh olive oil. Cook the chopped onion and garlic until fragrant and soft but not brown. Add in sliced leeks and then carrots. Add in the chopped tomatoes and then tomatoes in juice. Pour in the stock and water. Add in the bouquet garni. Simmer for 1 hour. Add in the sliced courgettes. Cook until the meat is tender. Season with salt and pepper in the end of cooking.