Kleftiko (Slow Roasted Lamb Shanks)- South African Style and a Hearty Vegie Soup

An anniversary is special and needs to be festive

As the anniversary is an extremely special day for those celebrating it, it needs to be a bit more festive and lavish than birthdays.

This is a winter anniversary meal, and is a bit more comforting and body warming than a summer version.

As these events only come around once a year, you do need to splash out and serve some wine with the meal, set the table with that special dinner service, crystal wine glasses. In other words the whole trip, especially of its for just the two of you.

The Menu

  • Homemade vegetable Soup

  • Slow cooked Lamb Shanks with Port and onion sauce

  • Served with slow baked baby potatoes and brown basmati rice

  • Fresh Seasonal vegetables with a cheese sauce

The Soup

It was a cold day on our last Anniversary, so I decided that we needed a bowl of something tasty, just to get us nice and warm, This was just an excellent opportunity to get part of the late lunch prepared the day before.

As soup, like a good curry, casserole, or stew, always tastes better the next day.

  • Tip of the day

All the vegetable peelings and trimmings, do not put them into the garbage disposal, or dustbin.

As you can either:

  1. Place them in your compost-er for compost
  2. Freeze and collect all these trimmings every time you cook, when you have a goodly collection of these you then:

Place all of these frozen trimmings into a pot of water with NO seasoning and boil until they are practically mush. Drain and cool.

  • Use this vegetable stock immediately or after freezing it in an ice cube tray, you pop several into the pot when you need them. Saves buying stock cubes.

Do the same with all those meat trimmings and small bones, keep separate and once a month or so, boil them up till mush.

Or, an even better idea if you are able.

  • Collect all any of those table leftovers that are occupying containers and baggies, cook them together with all the trimmings and give it to any of those homeless or destitute that are always with us all.
  • Or see if your local church or community centre has them.
  • If not speak to your neighbours and start a feeding scheme.

This is my kind of winter soup, a thick wholesome soup

As you can see the water and the ingredients have blended
As you can see the water and the ingredients have blended

Vegetable and Pasta - a meal on its own

First course on our menu.

Homemade Vegetable Soup.

Ingredients

  • 2 pieces of shin on the bone, you can use any other cuts of beef, or venison if you so desire
  • 1 large onion
  • 2 large leeks
  • 4 medium carrots
  • 1 large bunch of parsley
  • 3 medium turnips
  • 3 sprigs of celery with the leaves on
  • 1 Parsnip or white carrot if available
  • 1 cup of 4-in-1 soup mix, this is a mixture of dried split peas, barley, lentils and groats
  • 15 to 20 pieces of dried spaghetti
  • Salt and Pepper to taste

Method

Wash the meat, and bring it to boil in deep pot, with about 2 litres of water, add the desired amount of salt and pepper.

Once the water starts to boil add the 4-in-1 Soup mix.

Wash and clean the vegetables, then grate the hard vegetables, including the onions. Chop the leeks across its width into thin discs, and chop the celery and parsley as fine as you can.

Add all that to the saucepan, and once it starts boiling again reduce to a simmer.

Keep an eye on the level of the liquid in the saucepan and add cold water as needed.

Simmer for approximately 1 to 2 hours. After one and a half hours are up.

Bring the soup to the boil and break up the spaghetti into small piece and add it to the soup. Stir it up, so that it does not stick together. Adjust the water level, and once it is again boiling, reduce to a simmer.

How to tell if the soup is ready

The meat will be soft and tender and have fallen off the bone, the soup mix will be mainly dissolved and the barley, and peas will be very soft. More important of all, you will not see it as a pot with vegetables and water, you will see a pot with both together, a smooth blended pot of goodness.

Ready to serve, keep warm on a hot tray until it is time to dish up.

Slow Roasted Lamb Shanks

Lamb Shanks ready for the final stages of cooking
Lamb Shanks ready for the final stages of cooking

The Roast Lamb Shanks with Port and Onion Gravey

Note well, you will see we use the entire shank for this dish '

Now comes the slow part, this is a nice dish at it cooks away on its own for twelve to fourteen hours, on a very low heat of 60 degrees Celsius.

For those hunters out there.

You can substitute the lamb with any of the buck family shanks, the larger the size would not increase the cooking time dramatically. If using a larger shanks, you could allow 2 people to a shank.

Ingredients

  • 1 Shank per person - do not trim off the excess fat

If you are using venison add 10ml of olive oil per shank

  • 1 large onion per shank
  • 1 to 2 teaspoon crushed garlic per taste for the pot
  • 100ml of good Port for the pot
  • Salt and Pepper to taste
  • 1 tablespoon lard
  • 1 cup water
  • 3 baby potatoes per person
  • 2 teaspoons dried parsley or a couple of finely chopped sprigs fresh

You will need a roasting pan that has its own lid, and big enough to fit the shanks, potatoes and onions.

Place all the ingredients in the roasting pan, set the stove to 60 degrees Celsius, cover the roasting pan, make sure that it closes properly, then place it in the oven.

After twelve hours, uncover the roasting pan and check on the shanks. The meat should practically falling off the bone, as seen in the above photo.

When cooked, drain the liquid and the onions from the roasting pan, leave the shanks and potatoes in the roasting pan, turn the heat to 140 degrees Celsius and place the roasting pan, uncovered in the oven for 15 minutes, so that the potatoes crisp up a bit and the shanks get that final roast finish.

Drain off any excess fat from the residual liquid, place in a saucepan, over medium heat to reduce the liquid, chop up the cooked onions until fine and add them to the liquid. Once the sauce has reduced to your satisfaction you may need to thicken it or extend the volume of the sauce so that there is adequate sauce for everyone, do so with cornflour and a bit of water.

Brown Basmati Rice

We use this rice as a preference as it is low GL and really does taste better than the long grained , precooked, par boiled processed rices that are commercially available.

The no hassle way of cooking this and requires the least amount of nursing is in the microwave.

For my sized family, 3 healthy adults, I use 2 cups of rice for a meal.

So place the 2 cups of rice in a bowl, add the amount salt required, add 4 cups of boiling water to the bowl, cover it.

Place in the microwave and nuke for 25 minutes.

After 10 check on the rice, to see if tender, and sufficient water in the bowl, add some if required.

Check again after a further 10 minutes, and again after a further five.

Once cooked drain well and rinse.

Keep warm.

Steamed Seasonal Vegetables

For the meal I made, I decided on some fresh broccoli and cauliflower as well as some butternut fingers.

These were easy to obtain at the local supermarket, already packed and separated.

The butternut fingers went into the first pot of the stacked steamer for ten minutes once the water had started to boil.

The broccoli and cauliflour went into the next layer for the remaining 15 minutes.

The result was perfectly timed with the rice and the vegies were just right.

These too were kept warm.

The Cheese Sauce

This, was quickly put together during the last fifteen minutes of the rice and vegetable cooking process.

You will need

1 tablespoon of butter

1 cup grated cheese always use a strong flavoured cheese

2 tablespoon of flour

fresh full cream milk

1 pinch of mustard powder

Now what do you need to do to make this happen?

Place a deepish saucepan on the stove on mediun heat, and add the butter so that it can melt.

Now comes the tricky bits that could really mess up the sauce.

Once the butter has just melted, yes you need to watch this at all times. Add the mustard powder to the butter and give it a stir with a WOODEN SPOON, then add the flour and mix it quickly aroun unyil all the buteer has been absorbed and you have yellow balls of flour.

Take the saucepan off the stove and slowly add some milk to the saucepan, mix it thoroughly to for a thick smooth paste before adding in any more milk.

Return to the suacepan to the stove and add a bit more milk and stir all the time, slowly add milk mix and let it thicken, make sure that there are no lumps, then add more milk and continue doing this until you have reached the correct volumn and thickness that your family likes.

Once there, add small amount of the cheese to the sauce, mix in thouroughly, and let it melt and combine with the sauce. Then add the the balance of the cheese, blend it in, add some salt and pepper to taste, and transfer the perfect sauce to your serving dish. Keep warm.

If done correctly you will have a good cheese sauce.

The final step

All is prepared and the table is set.

Bring on the wine, the presents and begin the festivities. Bring forth the wishes and dreams for the next of many more years, to give the best of each other and to share what may come our way.

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Comments 4 comments

solarshingles profile image

solarshingles 8 years ago from london

Rodney, thank you for this beautiful piece of work! Very nice starting idea, good recipe and nice wishes/desires. You made me really hungry after this delicious food in front of my eyes. And I could also imagine a pudding at the end of the feast in the form of a very attractive and tempting, almost melting, silky smooth chocolate cake, which should have been cut and served together...


Just_Rodney profile image

Just_Rodney 8 years ago from Johannesberg South Africa, The Gold Mine City Author

Thanks for the comment, yes there was pudding but it was left in the fridge - chocolate chip coffee muffins with brandy custard - but there was just not enough space after the feast!


Karen Ellis profile image

Karen Ellis 8 years ago from Central Oregon

This would be a wonderful meal for our aniversary in October, when the weather is just starting to cool, here. If only I could get my husband to make it for me. LOL.

Rodney, I don't know why you don't have your own restauant. You, obviously, are a fantastic cook and very creative with your recipes. Money, is probably what your are thinking. So, we will have to INTEND that it should happen for you. If not your own restauant, then a famous cookbook writer. Once again you have caused my mouth to water.


Just_Rodney profile image

Just_Rodney 8 years ago from Johannesberg South Africa, The Gold Mine City Author

Thanks for the compliment, did own a resterauant in the early 90's but that was one of things that were not to be.

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