Soul-satisfying comfort food at its best, braised lamb shanks will fill every room in your house with an amazing aroma. The fresh gremolata garnish cuts the richness of this hearty but not heavy dish. (4 servings)
3 carrots, peeled and cut into ½-inch dice
Extra virgin olive oil
4 lamb shanks about 1 ¼ lbs. each
Freshly ground black pepper
2 yellow onions cut into a 1-inch dice
3 celery ribs, cut into a1/2-inch dice
4 cloves garlic
1 12-oz. can tomato paste
2 cups full-bodied red wine
2 T finely chopped rosemary leaves
10-12 thyme branches with leaves tied together
3 to 4 cups water
3 Turkish bay leaves
Gremolata (recipe follows)
1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.
2. Place 3 T olive oil in a large Dutch oven. Heat to almost smoking.
3. Season shanks generously with salt and pepper. Brown well on all sides.
4. Finely chop the carrots, onions, celery and garlic in a food processor until they become a coarse paste. Remove and set aside.
5. Remove shanks from the pan to a rimmed baking sheet. Discard excess fat from pan.
6. Add a little more oil to pan and add the vegetable paste. Sauté until it is very brown and fragrant, about 20 minutes, but do not let burn. Take your time with this step since this is where the brown color and flavor is developed.
7. Add tomato paste and brown for another 5 minutes. Stir in the wine, chopped rosemary and bundle of thyme. Stir frequently and cook until the wine has reduced by half.
8. Add the shanks back to the pan and pour in 3 to 4 cups of water. If the shanks are not submerged, add a little more water.
9. Add the bay leaves, cover and place in the preheated oven. The cooking time will be 2 ½ to 3 hours. Turn the shanks about halfway through the cooking time. Check every 45 minutes or so to see if the liquid has reduced too much and add more water if needed. Skim fat off surface as you go.
10. When the shanks are done, the meat should be falling-off -the bone tender and richly flavorful. Remove and keep warm. The sauce can be boiled down to thicken. Transfer to serving plates and top with braising sauce and gremolata. Serve with barley risotto, polenta cakes or mashed potatoes, if desired.
Zest of 1 lemon
Zest of 1 orange
¼ cup finely minced parsley leaves
1 garlic clove, minced
2 T freshly grated horseradish
Combine all ingredients in a small bowl and set aside until ready to use.
(Adapted from recipe by Anne Burrell)
Photographer Bill Brady