Lamb shanks are comfort food… succulent lamb with rich, vegetable-laden, savory gravy. Shanks are much less expensive than chops or roasts, so they are a good value. Each shank makes one serving. Serve with garlic mashed potatoes and a vegetable or salad.
2 lamb shanks (each about 1 1/4 pounds)
Coarse kosher salt
2 medium yellow onions, peeled and chopped
3 carrots, peeled and chopped
3 celery ribs, chopped
4 cloves garlic, sliced
1 (6-ounce) can tomato paste
2 cups red wine
2 tablespoons finely chopped rosemary leaves
1 tablespoon dried oregano
10 to 12 thyme springs tied together in a bundle
3 to 4 cups water or beef stock
4 bay leaves
3 tablespoons minced fresh mint
1 cup sliced mushrooms
Gremolata, for garnish (recipe follows)
1 orange, zested (about two tablespoons)
1 lemon, zested (about one tablespoon)
1/4 cup finely chopped flat leaf parsley
2 tablespoons freshly grated horseradish
1 small garlic clove, minced
In a small bowl, combine all the gremolata ingredients and set aside until ready to use. (Gremolata is best made fresh, as it will only keep for one day.)
Trim the silverskin and excess fat from the shanks.
Coat a Dutch oven generously with olive oil and bring to a medium-high heat. Season the shanks generously with salt and add them to the pan. Brown the shanks well on all sides.
Remove the browned shanks from the pan and transfer them to a plate. Discard any excess fat from the pan. Add a little more oil to coat the bottom of the pan and add the vegetables. Season with salt. Sauté the vegetables until they are slightly browned and aromatic, about 20 minutes. Add the tomato paste and brown, stirring, for five minutes. Stir in the wine, rosemary, oregano and thyme bundle. Stir frequently and cook until the wine has reduced by about half.
Return the shanks to the pot and pour in three to four cups of water or stock. The shanks should be submerged, if they are not, add more water. Add the bay leaves and mint to the pan, cover and return to stovetop or put in a preheated 400 degrees F. oven. Cook for 2 to 2 1/2 hours or until the shanks are tender. Turn the shanks over halfway through the cooking time. Check the shanks every 45 minutes or so. If the liquid has reduced too much add more water or stock. Skim the fat frequently.
If cooking in the oven, remove the lid during the last 30 minutes of cooking to further brown the shanks. Transfer them to a warmed plate and tent with foil. Strain the liquid, reserving both the sauce and vegetables. Remove the thyme springs and bay leaves. Purée the vegetables in a blender, adding a little sauce if needed; return the sauce and puréed vegetables to the pan and add mushrooms. Cook for three or four minutes. Place the shanks on a warmed serving plate. Drizzle some of the sauce over the shanks and serve any remaining sauce on the side. Garnish with Gremolata.
Heat Scale: Mild