In all animals, there are specific pieces of flesh or intricate assemblages of bone and joint that increase the difficulty in handling of such a cut, so much so, that people often don’t. In a perfect world, every animal would be utilized at it’s full potential… Unfortunately, the world is simply imperfect, which is where I come into play. As a cook, It is my duty to pay homage to a carcass.
The neck is a difficult piece of flesh by any standard. A small network of jig saw pieces fit together in a tight spot with little room to work a knife. So, I pose the alternative option of cooking the shaft whole.
From the Boning Bin to a Starting Dish!
I start by coating a collection of Lamb Necks in Olive Oil, Garlic, Rosemary, Thyme, Salt and Pepper. I allow that to soak in for about an hour before roasting the pieces at 375°F for thirty minutes.
After the necks are browned nicely, put them into a pot with a mire poix, a second round of fresh herbs, and I add Bay leaf, Black Peppercorns, Garlic, Star Anise, and the most important ingredient, the Scrapings from the Roasting Pan (it’s like a little lamb Bouillon cube chalked full of flavor).
Cover the bones with just enough water to submerge the pieces, and boil until the flesh falls from the neck leaving only the bone. It’s close to a good 5-7 hour simmer.
When you pull the necks out of the water, be careful to retrieve as much of the meat as possible. Pick the meat from the bones and set aside. Reduce the stock by half, then strain and reserve for later use.
The Stock Is Golden! Use the gelatinous liquid as the base of your next soup or stew and develop heart! A great Stock is capable of offering a Euphoric, Nostalgic, Hearty satisfaction in a meal that no other method can duplicate… It’s a fundamental in the evolution of Flavor… So, Stock Up.
Making a Farce
In a pan I sweat garlic and shallots, before adding the picked lamb meat. I deglaze the pan with 50/50 Red Wine and Port, and reduce this by two/thirds. I add fresh thyme, season accordingly then pulse everything quickly through a food processor, smoothing it out a bit to a consistency in coherence with a ravioli filling (or farce).
A delicate pasta to showcase this beautiful braise. I rolled out a thin sheet of multigrain pasta, then proceeded to hand roll hundreds of tiny little Agnolotti.
The dish is a Braised Lamb Agnolotti, Caramelized Buttercup Squash Puree, Honey Roasted Acorns & Fried Sage.