Soul food (+recipe)

Braised lamb shank pappardelle with kalamata olives, tomatoes and preserved lemon. Photo / Supplied
Braised lamb shank pappardelle with kalamata olives, tomatoes and preserved lemon. Photo / Supplied

Any Aucklander who watched the waterfront's first transformation a decade ago for that other Big Sporting Event, the America's Cup, will probably also have Soul Bar & Bistro embedded in those memories.

It was the first time we saw we could be a grown-up city, and Judith Tabron's restaurant set the benchmark for world-class hospitality, food and style. There is barely room on the restaurant walls for the awards she has garnered, her team of kitchen, procurement and front-of-house staff have loyally followed her - and customers are part of the family too.

With English chef Gareth Stewart, a rotating roster of global star chefs and much-loved events such as Bluff Oyster Day and Melbourne Cup parties, Soul manages to be both joyfully comforting and familiar, yet still new and interesting. Naturally, beside the sea, fish is the staple for customers, but seasonal specialties are anchored to what is fresh in the markets.

Spring is a long way off, so this wonderfully rich, meaty pasta dish very popular at Soul in winter is worth a weekend's simmering and pasta-making.

The meat on the lamb shanks taken from the foreleg is perfect for the long, slow braising that is required for maximum tenderness and flavour. If you do not make your own pasta, buy the widest dried pasta noodles you can find.

Braised lamb shank pappardelle with kalamata olives, tomatoes and preserved lemon, Serves 6

Lamb

4 lamb shanks
flour for dusting
extra virgin olive oil for browning
1 large carrot
1 onion
1/2 leek
2 sticks celery
200ml red wine
1 litre veal stock
1 litre chicken stock
1 bouquet garni (bay leaf, parsley stalks and sprigs of thyme)

Ragout

4 medium-sized shallots
2 cloves garlic
1 sprig thyme, leaves only
300ml red wine
6 sheets pasta dough, cut into rough pappardelle
16 kalamata olives, halved and pitted
4 Tbs roughly chopped parsley
1 preserved lemon, rinsed and cut into small dice
12 semi-dried tomatoes, halved

1. Dust the shanks in the flour and shake off any excess. Heat a heavy-based pan with a little olive oil. Brown the shanks over moderate heat, turning so all sides colour evenly. Remove and rest in a colander.

2. Cut the vegetables into medium-sized dice and cook in the same pan until they caramelise. Deglaze the pan with the red wine and simmer until quite reduced.

3. Top up with the veal stock and chicken stock and reduce again at a slow boil until the stock begins to have a slightly syrupy consistency. Do not season to taste at this stage as you will be reducing the liquid when the shanks are cooked.

4. Preheat the oven to 130C. Place the shanks in a large casserole dish and over them pour the cooking stock, including all the vegetables and bouquet garni. Cover with a piece of baking paper and then with the lid of the dish. Place in the oven to braise for 3 hours.

5. After this, the meat should be just falling off the bone. Allow to cool in the cooking liquid until cool enough to handle. Pull the meat into nice pieces and set aside. Meanwhile, pass the stock through a sieve into a pan, discarding the solids, and reduce until thick enough for the sauce to line the back of a spoon.

6. To make the ragout, place the shallots and garlic in a pot with a little olive oil and caramelise them. Add the thyme, then deglaze with the red wine and reduce.

7. Once the wine has reduced to almost nothing, add the lamb shank stock, along with the picked pieces of meat.

8. To serve, drop the pappardelle into salted boiling water until just cooked. Once the pasta is cooked, combine with the hot ragout and garnish with the olives, parsley, preserved lemons and tomatoes.

* The Soul Cookbook by Judith Tabron and Gareth Stewart, with Lauraine Jacobs, photography by Aaron McLean, $60, published by Random House.

- NZ Herald

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