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36th Dinner Club Meeting: Germany

Thursday night my group met once again for our on-going dinner club activity.  This was a notable event for two different reasons.  One, this is the first time anyone has ever had to miss a meeting. ;-(  Normally we select a time and get it on our calendars and if something happens to come up for someone we reschedule.  But on Thursday M2 was sick (she thinks with food poisoning) and by the time she was able to let us know she couldn’t make it, all of our courses and dishes were well under way so the show had to go on. 
The good news is that she seems to have recovered now so she’s back in the game.  The second thing was the theme, Germany, seemed to prove a bit challenging.  This doesn’t happen very often but every now and then we have a meal that isn’t quite as gratifying as some of the others.  Then again, that’s half the point of this group: we are trying to stretch our skills, knowledge and experience and sometimes that means you’ll fall down! 
M2 was scheduled to bring the appetizer, which sounded so good!  She was hand-making big pretzels and was going to serve them with a cheese spread.  But since she didn’t come we didn’t have them – dang it!  We’ll just have to try those at some other point. 
For the main course I chose to make Braised Knuckle of Lamb with Shallots (recipe below).  "Knuckle" is what we call shank. I was really happy with this dish!  As you may have read in this blog in the past, I love braising as it allows you to do all the work early on and then, while it finishes cooking in the oven (generally for 2 or 3 or more hours), you have plenty of time to do other last minute things or just be ready and relaxed when your guests arrive. 
This is a real Flintstones dish as, while braising, the lamb shrinks on the bone and when finished you have a "handle" on one end and all the meat in a sort of ball on the other.  This was a great dish that I’d make again. 

To accompany the lamb K made a super cheesy Spaetzle and R made a refreshing cucumber salad.  Unfortunately the recipe for the cucumber salad called for paprika and she used a smoked Spanish style that she had on hand.  It wasn’t the best choice.  Still I loved the refreshing cucumbers and sour cream, especially when paired with the rich lamb and spaetzle. 

And finally, M made her first cake ever!  It was a Black Forest Cake.  It looked great but it didn’t turn out quite right.  After much discussion we think her baking powder was too old.  Still it was a very nice effort and you could see how great it might be. 
All in all we had a fun evening, even though we missed M2.  But since she is hosting next time, that won’t happen again! 
Braised Knuckle of Lamb with Shallots
    • 4 knuckles of lamb (shanks)
    • 1 carrot
    • 2 onions
    • 1/4 celeriac (we call it celery root, you could also use a stalk or two of celery)
    • Thyme
    • Rosemary
    • Salt
    • Pepper
    • 2 Tbsp Tomato paste
    • 2 cups red wine
    • 6 potatoes
    • 4 shallots
    • Oil
In a hot pan, fry the knuckles of lamb in a little oil for about 12 minutes. Peel the carrot, onions, garlic and celeriac and cut into cubes. Add the cubes to the meat along with some thyme and rosemary. Salt and pepper.
Stir for 5 minutes over medium-high heat. Add the tomato paste. Stir for a moment over medium-high heat.
Deglaze the preparation with the red wine. Fill the pan with water. (until the shanks are about 3/4 covered)
Cook in the oven at 200°C/390°F for 1 hour and 30 minutes.
Peel the potatoes and shallots. Cut both into cubes of similar size. In hot oil, fry the shallots and salted and peppered potatoes. Serve with the knuckles of lamb with their sauce, surrounded by the golden potatoes and shallots. Garnish with thyme and rosemary.
Recipe from Culina Mundi World Cooking, p 726 
  1. HEDGE permalink
    10-May-2008 10:05 pm

    I have a German-Netherland background, so I read this with interest :)  I\’ve eaten versions of this before!  I\’m into Day 2 of "kicking the coca-cola habit".  So far so good…

  2. Culinary permalink
    11-May-2008 6:42 am

    Hi Hedge,
    Nice to know we got it right as we try to be authentic in our choices.  Good luck on breaking the habit!
    ~ B

  3. Jennifer permalink
    17-May-2008 6:00 am

    Fabulous spread. Looks so appealing. Love this comment: "we are trying to stretch our skills, knowledge and experience and sometimes that means you\’ll fall down!"-jenj

  4. Culinary permalink
    17-May-2008 7:05 am

    It\’s just like learning anything – if you are pushing yourself you\’ll most likely make a mistake at some point;if you are playing it safe you can avoid that but most likely your learning will not be as complete or as fast.  At least that\’s my opinion (and I try to remind myself of this when I\’m skiing!  ;-)  )

  5. Eric permalink
    19-May-2008 8:44 pm

    One of these days I\’m going to crash this thing.  :-) 

  6. Culinary permalink
    20-May-2008 5:56 am

    Hmmmm  … you\’ve given me an idea…
    ~ B

  7. Eric permalink
    21-May-2008 8:42 pm


  8. Steve permalink
    25-May-2008 9:04 pm

    We\’ve just finished our 13th Supper Club: one per month for the past year. I haven\’t been writing about it, but here\’s a short recount: Four and a Half Bellies.

  9. Culinary permalink
    26-May-2008 9:06 am

    Hi Steve!
    Very cool.  I took a look at your post and it looks like you guys have fun.  A different setup than our club but that\’s what makes it so great – eveyone can customize however works for them.  I hope you have as much fun and success as we\’ve had!
    ~ B

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