Photo credit: Cordell Wells

THE SALTY CHEF

Winter Hearty

Who doesn’t love an odd couple? These delicately paired flavours pack a whole lot of hearty flavour through opposites: savoury lamb and chocolately mole sauce, tart cranberries and custardy-sweetness.

What better way to host a cosy winter dinner than with these recipes?!

Lamb Shanks in Mole Sauce

This is an intensely decadent dish that is perfect for a Sunday afternoon or a special occasion. The sauce is rich and complex, and the lamb shanks come out incredibly tender and seasoned. I love it served with creamy grits, since they carry plenty of body to sop up any leftover sauce on the plate. If you can’t find lamb shanks, use beef spare ribs keeping the same method, but scaling back the cook time to two and a half hours.

Ingredients

4 lamb foreshanks, about 11/4 lb apiece
Salt
1/4 cup oil (to sear)
1/2 cup red wine vinegar
Mole Sauce Ingredients:
8 cherry tomatoes
2 garlic cloves
3 tsp sesame seeds
1/4 tsp black peppercorns
1/2 tsp dried oregano
1/2 tsp cinnamon
10 ancho chiles
8 guajillo chiles
3 Tbsp canola oil
11/2 oz chocolate (dark or unsweetened)
1/4 cup white sugar

Simple spices make a delicious sauce Photo credit: Cordell Wells

Preparation
For Sauce:

Roast tomatoes and garlic cloves in a 400°F oven for 20 minutes or until the tomatoes have blackened and the garlic is browned around the edges and soft in the center. When done remove from oven to cool.

Meanwhile, toast the seeds and spices in a fry pan set to medium. Begin with the sesame seeds, then add black peppercorns and cinnamon. Keep the spices moving in the pan as they toast. The idea is to make them fragrant and aromatic, but don’t let them burn! Remove from heat.

Blend the tomatoes and garlic together in a blender, add a little water if it’s too thick to blend well.
When the spices have cooled, blend them in a spice grinder.

Slice the chiles open lengthwise, removing the seeds. Cover them with about 11/2 cups boiling water in a small bowl and let them soak for about 20 minutes. Place both chiles and the water in a blender and purée. Strain.

Fresh tomatoes that are oven-roasted provide the base for the sauce Photo credit: Cordell Wells

Heat 3 Tbsp of oil in a medium saucepan or Dutch oven. Add the dried spices, then the two purées. Add the chocolate and sugar, and season with salt and pepper to taste. Let simmer for about 20 minutes. The oil in the sauce should rise to the top.

Preparation
For shanks:

Once you get your sauce simmering, season the shanks all over with salt, let sit for 15 minutes.

Using 3 Tbsp of oil in a Dutch oven on medium to high heat, sear the shanks on at least three sides.

Brush the shanks generously with the mole sauce, then sprinkle with red wine vinegar, a half cup of water and 1 Tbsp more of salt. Reserve the rest of the sauce for serving.

Coat the lamb with the sauce before slow roasting
Photo credit: Cordell Wells

Cover the Dutch oven and bake 31/2 hours in a 325°F oven. When they come out of the oven, the meat should be tender and falling off the bone. If not, allow them to cook 30-45 minutes longer.

The lamb shanks are delicious with creamy grits or polenta
Photo credit: Cordell Wells

Cranberry Curd Pie

If you love tart desserts, you’ll love this pie! The cranberries have plenty of pectin in them, making the curd easier and quicker to set than the standard citrus curd. The colour is bright and perfect for Valentine’s Day. This pie can be made a couple days ahead, as long as it is covered tightly with plastic wrap and kept refrigerated. Garnish with the sugared cranberries just before serving.

Photo credit: Cordell Wells

Crust Ingredients:

¾ cup graham crumbs
1 cup chopped walnuts
4 Tbsp butter (melted)
1/2 tsp powdered ginger
1/4 tsp nutmeg
1/4 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp ground cardamom
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/4 tsp almond extract
Cranberry Curd Ingredients:
11/4 cups cranberries
2 cups sugar, divided
1/4 cup water
3 eggs
2 egg yolks
Zest and juice from 1 lemon
Zest from 2 limes
1/2 cup lime juice
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 cup butter
Sugared Cranberries Ingredients:
2 cups sugar (divided)
1 cup water
1 cup cranberries
1 tsp lime zest

Cranberries can be fresh or frozen for this recipe
Photo credit: Cordell Wells

Preparation
For crust:

Preheat oven to 350°F. Mix graham crumbs with spices. Add melted butter and extracts and toss. The mixture should resemble wet sand. Pat the crumb mixture into a pie plate and bake, about 9 minutes, until edges are just beginning to brown.

Preparation
For curd:

Bring cranberries, 1 cup sugar, and 1/4 cup water to a boil. Simmer until the cranberries burst and much of the liquid has reduced, about 15 minutes. Allow to cool. Purée in a blender.

Assemble a double boiler (a heat-proof bowl sitting atop a pot of boiling water). In the double boiler, cook the cranberry purée with the eggs, yolks, 1/2 cup sugar, and citrus juices and zest. Stir the mixture often (every minute or so). The mixture is done when the curd thickens, about 10 minutes.

Mix the lemon and lime zest into the curd Photo credit: Cordell Wells

Use a double-boiler to cook the cranberry curd
Photo credit: Cordell Wells

Whisk the cubed butter in, a few cubes at a time. The mixture should pale slightly in colour.

Pour the mixture into the cooled pie crust. Allow to cool for about 20 minutes then cover with plastic wrap and let chill in the fridge, 8-10 hours.

Preparation
For sugared cranberries:

Bring 1 cup of sugar and water to a boil. Add cranberries. Cook for about 1 minute.

Pour the cranberries out onto a sheet of parchment and allow to cool for about 10 minutes.
Toss with the remaining sugar and lime zest.

When ready to serve, remove the plastic wrap from the pie filling and garnish with sugared cranberries and whipped cream.

Serves 8

Photo credit: Cordell Wells

Recipes developed and written by chef Chanelle Doucette. Photography by Cordell Wells.

A very big thank you to our lamb sponsor, Steerman’s Quality Meats.

About Chanelle Doucette

Chanelle Doucette grew up in Tignish, PEI. She graduated from the Culinary Institute of Canada in 2011. Now a red seal chef, she has worked at various restaurants in PEI as cook or pastry chef, including The Dundee Arms and the Wheelhouse in Georgetown. She is currently creating dishes in the kitchen at Slaymaker & Nichols Gastro House in Charlottetown, PEI.

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