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Saturday, February 18, 2012

Braised Lamb Shank with Red Wine and Rosemary


Lamb shanks are an inexpensive cut of meat best cooked low and slow. This recipe doesn't require much active preparation, but it does take a few hours to cook. It's a perfect pick for chilly days spent at home.

Instead of serving it over rice or couscous, I served it on  a bed of  finely chopped, sautéed cauliflower. It's a great alternative to grains.

Sea salt 
Ground peppercorn
2 lamb shanks, pre-seasoned and at room temperature
1 tbsp olive oil
6 small onions (like red cipollinis)
1 bunch carrots, cut into chunks
1 bunch purple plum radishes, cleaned, roots and stems removed
3 cloves garlic, grated or minced
2 cups Cabernet Sauvignon or other dry, fruity red wine
14 oz whole tomatoes
2 tsp fresh dried ground rosemary
Pinch cayenne pepper (optional)
1 head cauliflower to serve

With sea salt and ground peppercorn, season the lamb shanks ahead, 24 to 48 hours before you cook them if possible.

Take the seasoned lamb shanks out of the fridge an hour or two before you cook them to be sure that they will be at room temperature when you start.

When you're ready to cook the lamb shanks, preheat the oven to 300F.

Warm the olive oil in a Dutch oven over medium-low heat. Add the lamb shanks and brown them on all sides. Once they have browned, transfer them to a plate and set them aside.

Add the onions, carrots, and radishes to the Dutch oven. Cook the vegetables until they have browned, then remove them and set them aside as well.

Add the garlic and stir until aromatic, 30 seconds or more, then add the red wine, tomatoes, rosemary, cayenne, and a pinch each of ground peppercorn and sea salt. Increase the heat to medium-high and stir any brown bits on the bottom of the pan into the sauce. Once the mixture begins to simmer, replace the lamb shanks in the Dutch oven and arrange the vegetables around them.

Cover the Dutch oven and transfer it to the oven. Bake for an hour and a half at 300F, then reduce the heat to 250F and bake for another hour and a half. Turn off the oven, remove the Dutch oven, and cool it for 30 minutes or more.

You can serve the lamb shanks whole or pull them apart into large, tender chunks (the meat will fall easily away from the bone). Spoon some sauce over the top or serve it on the side with the roasted vegetables.

I served the lamb and roasted vegetables on a bed of finely chopped sautéed cauliflower. You can serve it with brown rice or chick pea purée if you prefer.

To make the cauliflower, pulse florets, tender leaves, and tender stems in a food processor until finely chopped. Sauté the chopped cauliflower and a pinch of sea salt in extra virgin olive oil until soft and starting to brown.

To make chick pea purée, soak dry chick peas overnight, then cook them until tender. Add a pinch of sea salt and cool them in the cooking water. Once cool, strain and reserve the cooking liquid. Add the cooked chick peas to a food processor with a splash of extra virgin olive oil and enough of the cooking liquid to make a nice consistency. Reserve any leftover cooking liquid for soup.

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