Thursday, December 9, 2010

Slow-Braised Lamb Shanks

According to the news, this is the coldest streak of weather NYC has seen since last February. In fact, NY1's Pat Kiernan officially gave permission to bitch about how cold it has been all week.
Thanks, Pat...

Frankly, weather like this just makes me want to stay in my apartment and cook warm things for hours.
And then, of course, eat them.
Hopefully by now everyone has recovered from Round 1 of Holiday Indulgence and is once more ready for a hearty dish.
I know I am.

I didn't follow a recipe for this meal. Instead I kind of winged it off of what I did with the red wine-braised short ribs, figuring what's good for beef is good for lamb. At least when it comes to braising.
And you know what?
It worked.
It was really good.
Tho I cannot stress enough the importance of making this a day in advance so it has time to meld and become truly fabulous.

For this recipe I used:
2 lamb shanks
3 carrots, peeled and cut into rounds
1 medium yellow onion, chopped
5 garlic cloves, minced
3 tsp chopped fresh rosemary
2 tsp dried thyme
1 bay leaf
5 black peppercorns
1 15 oz can crushed tomatoes
1 cup chicken stock
1 cup beef stock
1 1/2 cups red wine
1 1/2 tsp lemon zest

In a large heavy bottomed pot, heat 2 TBSP oil and brown your shanks, one at a time.
Remove and allow to rest.
If there are any burnt bits, remove them from the bottom of the pot with a wet towel.
Caramelization is flavor, and you want to keep that.

With just enough oil/fat to about cover the bottom of the pot, add onion and carrots and sauté until tender, about 10 minutes.
Then add the garlic, rosemary, and thyme, and cook until fragrant, another 2-3 minutes.
I place the peppercorns and bay leaf in cheese cloth or a loose-tea bag for easy removal later.
Add spice bag, lemon zest, crushed tomato, stock, and wine, and submerge the shanks in the liquid.
Bring everything up to a simmer, and then reduce heat to low and cook gently, lid on, for 2 hrs.

Uncover and cook another 30 minutes until the meat is very tender.

Remove shanks and crank the heat on the liquids until they have reduced to your desired thickness. Mine took another 30 minutes or so because I used so much stock and wine.
But then I love having loads of leftover sauce that I may or may not eat in small bowls like the richest consommé... or wateriest stew.
Whatever. It's delicious.
And warm.

Meanwhile, note the bone on the left has offered up its marrow to the sauce, while the one on the right still has marrow inside it.
Delicious on toast.

Return the meat to the reduced sauce, allow to cool, and refrigerate, covered, overnight.
The next day there will be a lot of solidified fat to remove from the surface.
Slowly bring the pot back to a simmer, and serve each shank with a few ladles of sauce and vegetables. 

I chose to serve this with quinoa and some fresher, sweeter carrots to offset the heaviness of the braised ones. This would go well with almost any starch: potato or vegetable mash, polenta, or couscous.
While there wasn't a whole lot of meat left over, there was a LOT of sauce, which I of course snacked on over the course of the next few days.
The rest of the leftovers got  a fancy kick as a pasta sauce, but I'll save that for another post.

This is by no means a perfected recipe, in my hyper-perfectionist opinion. I felt it was missing something to make it truly "wow" worthy. But it is certainly a solid method to follow with highly satisfying results.
Now pardon me while I go camp out by the radiator...


Melissa's Espresso Shot said...

Man that looks good. And, it's cold here in Virginia too. I'm from Georgia...I'm not used to this!

Chuck said...

If this wasn't about lamb it would be great (I have no taste for it)...I think I'll go re-read your short rib post:)

Lucky Punk said...

Yum. Your post makes me want to stay in your apartment for hours eating warm things, too.
Also, p.s., I think this is a newish blog design, yes? Like, like, like