Neighborhood Eats: Lamb shanks from the Food Sermon Kitchen

CROWN HEIGHTS, Brooklyn (WABC) -- In this edition of Neighborhood Eats, we're headed to Brooklyn for a new twist on the tastes of the Caribbean.

That's where we find the Food Sermon Kitchen, where Rawlston Williams pays tribute to the food of his native St. Vincent and the Grenadines and then takes it to a new level with his formal culinary training.

"Most Caribbean cooking, not all, but most, their goal is really tradition," he said. "This is how we did it. For me, tradition is where we start."

He opened the Food Sermon Kitchen initially as a catering company, but the Crown Heights community had other ideas. Residents wanted to eat what Rawlston was cooking, and so he listened to the people.

He started serving his food in massive bowls at the restaurant, located at 355 Rogers Avenue. He starts with a sauce -- coconut ginger or spicy tomato -- then adds rice, beans and protein like jerk chicken or salmon. The most popular is the lamb shank.

Rawlston's marinade consists of water, juniper berries, caramel color, tomato paste and a spice blend of star anise, all spice, mustard seeds and fennel. It's pureed, and the lamb shank marinates in it for at least an hour before it's cooked.

It's finished with toasted panko and chimichurri sauce.

Rawlston had studied to be a pastor, but cooking kept calling. Now, the kitchen is his pulpit.

Recipe for the Food Sermon's Braised Lamb Shanks

6 Medium Lamb Shanks

--3 tablespoons juniper berries
--1 tablespoon allspice
--3 bay leaves
--2 tablespoons fennel seed
--2 tablespoons red pepper flakes (optional)
--4oz tomato paste
--1 teaspoon of cloves
--1 medium onion (chopped)
--4 cloves of garlic
--5 sprigs of fresh thyme (remove stems and toss out)
--6oz white vinegar
--4oz caramel or browning syrup
--4 tablespoon white sugar
--2 tablespoons salt
--2-3 cups water


--Combine all above ingredients in a blender. If too thick, add water to loosen mixture enough to be poured.


--Place shanks flat in a pan large enough to hold all six and at least four inches deep. It is OK if they crowd the pan because they will shrink during cooking.

--Pour marinade mixture over shanks.

--Let sit refrigerated covered for at least one hour, but overnight would be ideal.

After Marination

--Pour water over marinaded shanks until barely covered and cover tightly with foil.

--Bake in preheated 425 degree oven for two hours.

--After two hours, turn oven off and let sit in hot oven for another 30 minutes.

After Braising

--Separate shanks from sauce and set aside. At this point, rendered fat from lamb will be on top of braising liquid. If time permits, cool braising liquid down, which will make it easier to remove fat. If time does not permit, skim as much fat from the top as possible.

--Place braising liquid in a pot and reduce by half. Taste. Add salt if needed.

--Add sauce back to the shanks, and heat until shanks internal temp is 160 degrees.

--Serve with desired sides such as couscous, rice, vegetable, quinoa, etc.

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