Seder Plate Amuse Bouche: Zeroa

On the Seder plate this would be the shank bone. I grew up in one the the families that treated it as something not eaten or handled. However in Jewish culture that was not always the case. The shank bone came from the time of the lamb being offered to the Jewish Temple as the Pesach sacrifice. It was then roasted and eaten as part of the meal on the Seder night. 

When working through my thoughts on my take on this dinner I wanted to make the interpretation of the Seder plate an experience. I wanted everything to be tasted. It wasn’t until I was working on this idea two years ago that I started seeing recipe after recipe for lamb shanks. Of all the recipes I had seen Heston Blumenthal‘s technique was the most intriguing. Simply put your lamb shanks in lamb stock, cover with foil, and roast for hours on end, making the meat quite literally fall off the bone.

The thing I love about this amuse bouche is that it’s HUGE flavor in one small bite. It starts with making a lamb stock (ok, if you’re lucky enough to live somewhere you can actually buy lamb stock then it will save you time but homemade is amazing! For the stock you slow roast the bones, it then goes into a pressure cooker with all sorts of goodies and cooks for a couple more hours. You fully chill the stock and remove all the fat that has solidified in the top, leaving you with a very rich stock.

You then take some of the stock bring it to a simmer and pour it over the shanks in a casserole. You then roast that for hours. You then take that liquid and reduce it buy half at least. Each time you cook, roast, and simmer, you intensify the flavor. In the end you had this dark mahogany gravy that is going to wow your guests and be a delight either as an amuse bouche or offered in a gravy boat with the main course.

It does take days. It does take many hours and steps but what you end up with is well worth the time. Best part is you can make the stock and the gravy well in advance and freeze it so that it doesn’t have to add to your work load in the days leading up to Passover.

Lamb Shanks


  • 1 kilogram Lamb Stock
  • 2 Lamb Shanks


In a 4quart saucepan bring the stock to a simmer. Meanwhile Preheat the oven to 215ºF. Place the lamb shanks in a casserole dish. Pour the simmering stock over the shanks. Cover the dish with foil and slow roast for 5 hours. Allow the meat to cool in the liquid. Remove the shanks from the stock and remove the meat from the bones.

Lamb Gravy



  • 2 tablespoons Schmaltz
  • 1 Onion, Yellow, peeled, chopped
  • 2 ribs Celery, chopped
  • 1 Carrots, peeled, chopped
  • 2 Garlic Clove, smashed
  • 1 Bay Leaves
  • 2 tablespoons Tomato Paste
  • 6 ounces Malbec
  • 28 grams Schmaltz
  • 2 tablespoons All-purpose Flour
  • 16 ounces Lamb Stock, use the liquid from the shanks*
  • 1 teaspoon Red Wine Vinegar
  • Salt and Pepper, to taste


*(I found this recipe works amazingly when using the stock and drippings from the shanks. The liquid form the slow cooking is roughly 32 ounces so you will want to put this in a small pot and reduce by half before adding to the gravy. Reducing the stock will intensify the flavor adding even more complexity.)

In a large sauté pan warm the schmaltz over medium heat. Add the garlic and sauté just until fragrant. Add the onion, celery, carrot, and bay leaf. Cook stirring occasionally until the vegetables begin to brown, about 5 minutes. Stir in tomato paste; cook 1 minute. Deglaze pan with wine; reduce until liquid is nearly evaporated.

Stir in the flour and schmaltz until you no longer see any dry flour. Add stock reduction and stir until smooth, scraping up bits on bottom of pan. Bring to a boil and reduce to a simmer. Cook until thickened, 2 minutes. Strain and discard solids. Stir in vinegar and season with salt and pepper. (If the gravy seems to thin put it into a small clean sauce pan and continue to reduce to your desired consistency.

To plate this small bite warm your gravy and shank meat. In your spoon add ¼ ounce of meat and pour the gravy into the spoon to about a ¼ -inch below the rim of the spoon. Sprinkle with a pinch of Ras El Hanout.

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