Lamb Shanks, Braised

This recipe is a winner and makes a very impressive presentation for a company meal.  Most of the preparation is done well before guests arrive, so you can enjoy your company before dinner.

lamb shanks on bed of braising vegatables

  • 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 large onion, cut into eighths
  • 4 stalks celery, chopped
  • 3 carrots, chopped
  • kosher salt & pepper to taste
  • 8 whole garlic cloves
  • 2 tablespoon tomato paste
  • 1 15 ounce can diced tomatoes and juice
  • 4 lamb shanks (about 1 1/2 pounds each)
  • 1/2 bottle dry white wine
  • 4 cups chicken or lamb stock

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.  Heat the oil in a large Dutch oven or deep ovenproof skillet over medium heat.  Add the onion, celery, carrot, and season with salt and pepper to taste.  Cook, stirring occasionally, until the vegetables are tender and just beginning to brown, about 20 minutes.  Add the garlic, tomato paste and diced tomatoes along with juice, mix well and cook about 3 minutes.

Salt and pepper the lamb shanks and lay them in a single layer, over the vegetables in the dutch oven.  Add the wine and enough stock to surround but not cover the shanks and bring to a simmer.  Transfer pan to the oven.  Braise the shanks, uncovered, turning every 30 minutes or so, until the meat is fork tender and browned, about 2 1/2 hours.  The meat will brown during the final stages of braising.  While braising, add more stock if liquid falls below halfway down the shanks.  Remove from the oven and gently transfer the shanks to a platter and cover loosely with tin foil.  Let stew vegetables and liquid cool slightly to allow fat to rise. 

Skim fat or strain through a fat separator.  Strain braising liquid from vegetables through a fine mesh sieve.  You can discard the vegetables or use them as a base to rest the shanks on a serving platter.  They are great for presentation, but don’t serve them, they will be soggy and fatty.

You should have several cups of braising liquid left.  I like to cook frozen peas in the braising liquid, strain and set the peas aside.  Return the liquid to the braising pot and reduce by half, by cooking over medium heat on the stove, stirring occasionally.  Return the shanks, gently to the reduced liquid and toss to rewarm.

Assemble your meal by reheating peas in the microwave, careful not to over cook.  Serve peas in their own serving bowl.  Spread the braising vegetables on a platter and lay the shanks on top.  Drizzle some of the braising liquid over shanks and serve with additional sauce in a gravy boat or sauce pitcher.

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