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Lamb Stew and figuring out "done-ness"

So I have some bone-in lamb shanks that I was going to make stew with this weekend and I thought I would ask a question of the experts here. When it comes to slow-cooking bone-in meat like this in a Dutch-oven with the oven set at say 300-325 (I'm using the salt/pepper/flour-dusting, then searing on the stove-top, deglazing with stock and wine and demi and then adding meat back in clapping on the lid and putting the whole thing in the oven -- technique) is there a way (other than practice) to determine when the meat is perfectly cooked? I've used this technique with beef shoulder chunks and (I'm embarrassed to admit) overcooked the meat. I'm trying to achieve that mouthwatering, tender, pull the meat-apart in strands consistency, and I'm struggling to get there. I've undercooked, overcooked, got it perfect by accident, and I'd like to get a little more scientific about the weight of the meat, the temperature, and the time it takes to cook. Any tips and tricks much appreciated.
Best,
M

asked by MDC almost 2 years ago
8 answers 1250 views
3-bizcard
sdebrango

Suzanne is a trusted source on General Cooking.

added almost 2 years ago

I have made many a lamb shank and although I don't have a scientific formula I can tell you that in my experience lamb shanks require significant cooking time to get them fall off the bone tender. They are a bit tough by nature, I make 4 shanks at a time they vary in weight but are usually a little over a pound each, braising IMHO is the best way to achieve a tender shank. I start on the stove top finish in the oven set at 350 degrees and I braise for about 3 hours. I have never over cooked a shank but have undercooked and thats not pleasant. I always make sure the meat is completely covered in stock and wine, bring to a boil on stove top, cover and place in the oven for the rest of the cooking time. It's done when the meat pulls away from the bone easily with a fork. I usually start checking after 2 1/2 hours.

Zester_003
pierino

pierino is a trusted source on General Cooking and Tough Love.

added almost 2 years ago

Well, when you got to the "pull the meat apart" part you arrived at the right answer. Using a pair of forks the meat should separate from the bone easily. Don't let your braise come to a full boil because if you do it will become tough and unchewable (unless you happen to be English). Braising requires low heat (a simmer), time and patience.

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MDC
added almost 2 years ago

Thanks all for the comments, if I run the oven at 350, won't the whole thing come to a boil in the oven? If I want it to just simmer away for a couple of hours, what would you think about keeping the oven really low.... say 250-ish? or is it just going to take an age?

Zester_003
pierino

pierino is a trusted source on General Cooking and Tough Love.

added almost 2 years ago

Actually the best way to cook it would be on the stove top rather than in the oven. It will be easier to braise and to monitor the braise.

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MDC
added almost 2 years ago

Makes sense to me, thanks again for the comments and feedback.

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MDC
added almost 2 years ago

Much appreciated, that's exactly what I was trying to do without understanding the temperate ranges clearly. I have also not been "resting" my braise to allow it to come down to 125 while still in the liquid, and I will absolutely try that. Thanks again