Braised Lamb Shanks
Every family has their traditional holiday meals, dishes that encapsulate the essence of the holiday spirit. For us, at Easter, it’s all about the lamb (preferably with some mint jelly). It’s been several years since I’ve celebrated Easter with family, but even so preparing my lamb-based meal for one calls to mind family gatherings held in years past.
This year, I had trouble tracking down mint jelly, so I went in a different direction. The local lamb shanks in my freezer were begging for a slow-cooked preparation and I was feeling very French, so slow-braised lamb shanks in Bordeaux it was. I served mine over a bed of polenta with some steamed green beans, but you could also serve this dish with risotto or baguette and a side salad, or simply enjoy it on its own.
1 1/3 lbs lamb shank
1 tbsp olive oil
1 medium onion
3 cloves garlic
2 medium carrots
5 oz chicken broth
14.5 oz can diced tomatoes
250 ml red wine (I used a relatively inexpensive Bordeaux, but any red wine will do. Just remember that while there’s no reason to buy an expensive bottle, you should never cook with wine you wouldn’t also be willing to drink!)
salt and pepper
Pat lamb dry, then sprinkle with salt and pepper, rubbing the seasoning into the meat on all sides. Add olive oil to a dutch oven on medium heat. Once the oil is hot, place the lamb in the bottom of the dutch oven. Cook until meat is just browned on all sides, then remove and set aside.
Dice onion, carrot and garlic. Add to the dutch oven and cook until onion and garlic are fragrant. Add the wine and chicken broth, then nestle the lamb in the mixture.
Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat to a simmer. Cook covered on low for 2.5 – 3 hours, or until lamb is extremely tender and falls off the bone with very light pressure (it is very hard to overcook lamb using this method – if you aren’t sure if the lamb is done yet, give it another 20 – 30 minutes and check again).
Once the lamb is done, gently remove from the pot and place on a plate. Tent the plate with aluminum foil.
Continue simmering the vegetable-broth-wine mixture until the sauce has thickened substantially, about another 20-30 minutes.
Plate the lamb, pouring the sauce over the shanks. Makes 2-3 servings.