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Lamb Shanks and Edible Chestnuts #FoodieReads

Okay, let's start with this: this isn't really a foodie book. It's a creepy, well-written thriller that kept me up at night and had me checking the doors and windows before going to bed. And, last week, I raced to finish it because I knew Jake was going to be out of town and I didn't want to sleep alone after reading it. So, I finished it on Thursday night...before he left on Friday. Phew.

What book? you ask! The Chestnut Man by Søren Sveistrup.*

On the Page

This is definitely not my usual genre of choice, but just as I'll read or watch anything that's set in Italy, I have a soft spot in my heart for Copenhagen, well, Denmark anyway. This is a photo from our last day in Copenhagen, in January of this year, before we flew home after spending the holidays with friends who live there.

This book mirrors the atmosphere in the photo: dark, wet, dreary, and cold. Copenhagen is being terrorized by a serial killer, one who tortures then amputates the victims and leaves a tiny chestnut doll at the scene. Detectives Thulin and Hess are paired up to solve the first murder before Thulin moves to her new job in cybercrime. Then more murders follow while they are still investigating. The work they do is methodical in the face of a mix of horrific violence and brutality; the storyline is interspersed with countless red herrings and just when you think you have a handle on the story, it turns on its head.

As I said, it's well-written and really creepy. It ended up wrapping up a little too nicely, in my mind. But, still, I will likely pick up any subsequent works I see from the author.

Edible Chestnuts

The solution to the murder mystery lies in the recognition that there's a difference between edible chestnuts and non-edible chestnuts, what they call horse chestnut and what I call buckeyes. Naturally that brought me to making a recipe with chestnuts. When it's the season, I always stock these peeled and steamed chestnuts. They are so easy to use and just scream 'Autumn!' to me.

Also, I know it's morbid, but I picked shanks as my inspiration since all of the victims' appendages were sawed off. Okay...I know, I know. That was bad. But this dish is really, really tasty.

Ingredients serves 8
  • 6 T olive oil
  • 1 fennel bulb, trimmed and thinly sliced
  • 2 T minced garlic
  • 2 T chopped fresh rosemary
  • eight 3/4- to 1-pound lamb shanks
  • white whole wheat flour for dredging
  • 2 1/2 C dry red wine
  • 2 1/2 C organic chicken broth
  • 1 T unsulphered molasses
  • 1 1/2 T fresh tomato sauce
  • 1 T fennel seeds
  • 5 bay leaves
  • 2 C steamed, peeled whole chestnuts
  • 2 C dried apricots
  • 2 stems of fresh sage
  • 2 stems of fresh rosemary


Heat 3 T olive oil in heavy large Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Add sliced fennel and garlic and sauté until brown.

Coat lamb shanks with flour. Heat remaining 3 T olive oil in heavy large skillet over high heat. Working in batches, add lamb shanks to skillet and cook until brown on both sides, about 10 minutes per batch.

Using tongs, transfer lamb shanks to plate. Add 1 cup dry red wine to same skillet and bring to boil, scraping up any browned bits. Pour into Dutch oven with fennel mixture. Add remaining 1 1/2 cups red wine, chicken broth, tomato sauce, molasses, and bay leaves to dutch oven. Bring to boil. Add lamb shanks, turning to coat with liquid.

Simmer for one hour. Add in the rosemary, apricots, and chestnuts.

Bring mixture to boil. Reduce heat, cover and simmer until lamb is almost tender, turning lamb shanks occasionally, approximately another hour. Uncover Dutch oven and boil until liquid is reduced to sauce consistency, stirring and turning lamb shanks occasionally, about 30 minutes. They should be falling-off-the-bone tender! Season with salt and pepper.To serve, spoon the sauce over the shanks.

*This blog currently has a partnership with in their affiliate program, which gives me a small percentage of sales if you buy a product through a link on my blog. It doesn't cost you anything more. If you are uncomfortable with this, feel free to go directly to and search for the item of your choice.

Click to see what everyone else read in September 2019: here.


  1. Sometimes it's the non-food books that can provide such fun inspiration. This looks wonderful!

  2. How fun...I love the inspiration from the book, sawed of bones LOL>


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