Chef Maximo Lopez can’t read German, and he has only vague memories of his Jewish grandmother, but he cites the silver-covered cookbook (written in German) his grandmother took with her when she fled Germany for the safety of Argentina as his single-most important inspiration.
“If I imagine myself in that situation, what would I take?” asked Lopez. “The book was very important to her, so it became an inspiration to me.”
Lopez, who hosts several cooking shows on El Gourmet, the Latin American food network, is executive chef at Wall & Water at Andaz Wall Street in New York City.
Orange-and-cinnamon-scented lamb shank with Parmesan grits Serves 8
For the lamb shanks:
8 lamb shanks
½ cup all-purpose flour
2 Spanish onions
4 stalks celery
6 cloves garlic
6 sprigs thyme
1 cup canned tomatoes, drained
1½ cups brandy
½ gallon lamb stock
4 sticks cinnamon
Kosher salt and pepper, to taste Olive oil, as needed
Butcher’s twine, as needed.
Prepare the lamb shanks by removing the first three inches of tissue on the thin end of the bone. Truss the remaining meat with butcher’s twine. Place the flour into a medium mixing bowl and season with salt and pepper. Clean and rough-chop the carrots, onions and celery. Drain canned tomatoes through a strainer to remove the excess moisture. Peel the oranges with a vegetable peeler removing only the zest; reserve the zest. Squeeze the oranges and reserve the juice.
Heat a rondo or braising pan over medium-high heat with enough olive oil to coat the bottom. Season the shanks with salt and pepper, then dredge in the seasoned flour. Pat the shanks to remove excess flour and brown in the rondo on all sides. Once the shanks are a rich brown color, remove them from the pan. Add the carrots, onion and celery to the pan juices and caramelize to a rich brown (about 10 minutes), stirring occasionally to remove the fond. Add the garlic, thyme sprigs and tomatoes. Cook for three minutes, then deglaze with the brandy and reserved orange juice; reduce by half. Place the lamb shanks back into the rondo; add the cinnamon sticks and orange zest and cover with lamb stock. Season the braising liquid to taste and reduce heat to low. Cover and braise for 2½ hours or until the meat is tender and almost falling off the bone (the butcher’s twine will prevent this from happening).
For the Parmesan grits:
16 ounces instant grits
7½ cups chicken stock
1 cup grated Parmesan
½ cup heavy cream
Kosher salt and pepper, to taste.
Heat the chicken stock and season. Slowly pour in the instant grits and cook, whisking constantly until the grits begin to thicken, about four minutes. Turn off heat and add cream and Parmesan cheese. Whisk to incorporate the cheese. Season to taste.
Remove the twine from the shanks and serve over Parmesan grits. Ladle some of the braising juice onto each serving.
Berry crumble with crème Anglaise Serves 8
For the filling:
1½ cups blackberries
1½ cups blueberries
1½ cups raspberries
1½ cups strawberries, stems removed and cut in half
¾ cup granulated sugar
Place all of the berries into a mixing bowl and toss with the sugar to coat evenly.
For the oatmeal streusel topping:
1 cup butter, room temperature
1¼ cups light brown sugar
1¼ cups granulated sugar
½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
1½ cups oatmeal
1½ cups all-purpose flour
½ teaspoon vanilla extract
In a stand mixer mixing bowl with a paddle attachment, cream together the room temperature butter, sugar and ground cinnamon. Remove the bowl from the mixer and add the flour, oatmeal and vanilla extract. Incorporate well by rubbing the mixture between your hands.
After both recipes are complete, for each serving place ¾ cup of the berries into a small cast iron dish. Top with a good amount of the oatmeal streusel topping. Bake at 375 degrees for 12–15 minutes. Serve with crème Anglaise.
For the crème Anglaise:
1¼ cups whole milk
½ cup heavy cream
1 vanilla bean, halved and scraped
4 egg yolks
¾ cup granulated sugar
In a small saucepot combine the milk and cream with the vanilla bean. Set aside to let the vanilla bean infuse the milk. Prepare a double boiler using a small saucepot filled halfway to the top with water; place over low heat. In a separate bowl combine the yolks and the sugar; whisk until sugar is dissolved and the mixture is pale yellow. In the meantime, heat the milk mixture to 180 degrees. Ladle 2 ounces of the hot milk mixture into the yolk mixture, whisking constantly to temper the yolks. Add the rest of the milk mixture, whisking constantly to avoid cooking the egg yolks. Place the bowl with the unfinished custard over the double boiler and stir constantly with a heatproof spatula until the mixture has the consistency of heavy cream, or to 160 degrees. Remove mixture from the heat and pass through a chinoise. Chill in an ice bath and serve with warm berry crumble.
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