Braised Lamb Shanks Recipe

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Braised Lamb Shanks
by Charlie Burke

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Last Saturday was cold  and rainy, and my wife and her friend were happily
spending the day shopping for clothes – activity males are genetically precluded
from understanding!

A phone call from my wife, Jo, informed me she wanted “something stew-like”
because of the raw weather. Knowing spring lamb is now in the market, I decided
on braised shanks. As with other less popular cuts, local farmers are happy to
provide them at a lower price than the roasts or chops, and they actually are more
suitable for braising. Take the trouble to find locally grown meat; you will get a
better product and at the same time help sustain local farms.

For four:

Four lamb shanks, trimmed of excess fat
One head of garlic, separated and peeled
Several sprigs of fresh rosemary, chopped (or 1 ½ teaspoon dried rosemary)
2 bay leaves
2 teaspoon grated lemon rind (optional)
1 cup canned tomatoes, chopped (if you do not have your own use best quality
commercial such as Muir Glen organic tomatoes)
1 tablespoon tomato paste
1 cup red wine*
½ cup chopped black olives, such as Calamata
2 anchovies, minced – optional (
these do not add a fishy taste, but rather intensify the
flavor. Many sauces in restaurants are intensified with anchovies – a fact usually kept
secret by the chef)
Water or chicken broth
Kosher or sea salt and freshly ground pepper
Olive oil

Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Heat a heavy Dutch oven or pan over medium-high
heat and add sufficient olive oil to cover the bottom. Salt and pepper all surfaces
of the lamb shanks and brown on all sides. If there is not room for all, do them in
two batches. Remove shanks and drain off fat. Add olive oil to cover bottom of
pan, add garlic and anchovies, if using, and stir until aromatic. Add remaining
ingredients, except water or broth, and bring to a boil. Return shanks to the pan,
and add water or broth to nearly cover them. Return to boil, cover and place into
the oven. If the pan does not have a tight fitting lid, cover with aluminum foil and
any pan lid. Cook for approximately 2 hours, or until meat is very tender and
pulls easily from the bone. The recipe can be made to this point a day or two
ahead; the flavor will only improve. Simply cool to room temperature, refrigerate
and skim fat from surface before resuming preparation.

To serve, remove shanks to a plate, skim fat from the sauce and boil until slightly
thickened. Taste for seasoning and return shanks to sauce until reheated. Plate
shanks and spoon sauce over them. Serve with roasted potatoes or potato
pancakes (see archives for both recipes) and spinach or other greens, along with
crusty bread.  If extra shanks are cooked, the meat and sauce make a great pasta
dish for a second meal.

*A hearty red, such as a Rhone or Australian Shiraz matches this dish well.

About the author  An organic farmer and avid cook, writer Charlie Burke is the
vice president of the New Hampshire Farmer’s Market Association and helps run
the Sanbornton Farmers' Market. Along with his wife, Joanne, he grows certified
organic herbs, greens and berries at Weather Hill Farm in Sanbornton, NH.  
Braised Lamb Shanks
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