Friday, March 09, 2018

Lamb Shanks Savory Delight

I've had lamb shanks at restaurants, the last time being in Avignon in France, but have never made them least not that I can remember. Turns out that they are an easy braise and a savory delight. The key things are to brown the shanks very well before braising, and to start the dish early enough that you can allow it a nice, slow braise in the oven for tender meat.

So, what is braising, you may ask? It is slow cooking of something with additional liquid added. Pot roast is a well known example.

Sweetie and I provide pasture for lambs for our neighbors each year. As a thank you they usually give us some lamb. I was going through the freezer a week or so ago and noticed that they had given us a beautiful lamb shank, almost two pounds in size. This is the perfect size for a dinner for two. Although you can probably get lamb shanks that are boned by the butcher, for this braise a shank with the bone is best.

A quick review of online recipes revealed that you brown the shank, brown aromatics like onion, garlic, carrot and celery, then cook all of those with a liquid, often wine, and with aromatic herbs like rosemary and thyme. I also added a pinch of dried orange peel, a trick from Julia Child.

This was a most delicious meal. I served the shanks in low, wide soup bowls with cooked yukon gold potatoes, smashed, and with cooked peas. I sprinkled gremolata on top to add a bring note and spooned on some of the delicious broth and vegetables. It was the perfect dish for a chilly winter evening. Try it yourself and see!

For those who are keeping track of what I am up to beyond food, a couple of days ago I was rear ended shortly before noon. The good news is that, other than some muscle soreness on my right side, I am fine. I was pretty shaken up and very sore yesterday, but rest and fluids, some movement and stretching, and chiropractic and ice and some ibuprofen have helped. The poor car will take some time to repair but in the meantime I scored a nice rental SUV. Thanks to everyone who expressed their concern. Although sometimes injury doesn't show up right away, as far as I can tell I'll be fine.
Sweetie was, as always, a rock and I'm sure I would have fallen to pieces without him. I'm a blessed and lucky woman!

Lamb Shanks with Red Wine and Herbs
Serves 2

2 one pound lamb shanks or one two pound shank
salt and pepper to taste
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 large carrot, diced
2 stalks celery, diced
1 medium onion, diced
2 cloves garlic, peeled and minced
2 cups red wine
1 3/4 cups chicken broth
1 15oz. can diced tomatoes and juice
2 teaspoons fresh rosemary, chopped
1 teaspoon dried thyme
1/8 teaspoon dried, crushed orange peel

Preheat oven to 325 degrees F.

Rinse lamb shank(s) and dry thoroughly. Season with salt and pepper. Set aside.

Heat olive oil in heavy oven-proof covered dutch oven or similar large pot. Brown lamb on all sides. Remove to plate. Saute carrot, celery, onion and garlic in same pot, stirring often, until onion is translucent, about 5 minutes.

Add wine to the pot and stir to deglaze pan. Return the lamb to the pot, add the chicken broth, tomatoes and juice, herbs and orange peel. Cover pot and place in preheated oven. Cook for one and a half (1 1/2) hours, then turn pot 180 degrees and cook in oven at same temperature another one to one and a half hours, until meat is tender and falling off the bone.

Serve at once, with generous portions of the juices and vegetables in the broth. If desired, top with gremolata.

1 clove garlic, minced fine
lemon zest from one lemon
1 tablespoon finely chopped flat leaf parsley

Combine all ingredients. Sprinkle over cooked meats, poultry or veggies that need a flavor lift.

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