Although this isn't a food blog, our second favorite thing to do in the whole world is cook and eat. So I thought I'd share the recipe we used for those Gratiot Market lamb shanks. We made it up after looking at a bunch of different versions via Chef Google and seeing what we had available in the fridge and larder. So here's one more to add to the 1000s of others on-line. This recipe is really easy, and results in a wonderful meat dish with a built-in sauce that'll wow anyone. It's good for dinner parties too because all the 'work' is long gone by the time guests arrive, and it will hold for hours if someone's late.
Stone & Sarah's Slow Braised Lamb Shanks recipe (for two)
2 lamb shanks
1 large white onion, peeled and cut into 1/2 inch chunks
1 head of Garlic, peeled and smashed
handful of rough chopped celery leaves and stalks (rinsed)*
cup of peeled baby carrots, rough chopped
big sprig of sage
a few sprigs fresh rosemary
2 tblsp olive oil
about 1 cup cheap Merlot
1 cup beef stock (I used a can of the stuff)
1 small can tomato puree
1 small can tomato juice
1/2 tsp celery seeds
tbsp Balsamic vinegar
Salt and black pepper
Preheat oven to 325F. Salt & pepper the shanks. In a large dutch oven, heat the olive oil on the range top until it's smoking and brown the shanks on all sides on high heat (about 10 min). Remove the shanks and put to one side. In the remaining oil, toss in the onion, carrots, garlic, celery leaves/stalks and the herbs (make sure the celery leaves aren't too bitter - they need to be really fresh). Brown these on a high heat stirring constantly until starting to brown and fragrant (about 5 min). Put in the tomato paste, tomato juice, balsamic, wine and beef stock. Stir all together and put the shanks back in. If the fluid doesn't cover them, add wine/water until covered. Bring back to a simmer and then put into the oven.
Have a glass of wine and tidy up any mess from the prep.
After 1 hr, uncover the dutch oven and stir. Cook uncovered at 325F for another 2-3 hrs, turning the shanks every half hour or so as the liquid level falls. After 2 hrs you can turn the oven down to 300F.
|The lamb shanks during cooking. Yum.|
The meat should almost be falling off the bone. Don't let the thing get too low on liquids! (just throw in hot water if required). If you're also roasting some celeriac root (or carrots, or parsnips) peel them, slice into 1/2 inch slices, drizzle generously with XVO and grind a bit of salt and pepper on top, put in a shallow roasting dish and toss in the oven when the lamb is about an hour and a half away from finishing. See pic above. I added a few tiny onions too.
Have some more of that wine. (It's probably not good enough to have with the actual dinner anyhow. The one I used was some totally acceptable Californian "3 bottles for $10" Merlot plonk. But no point wasting it.)
Remove the lamb to a plate, cover with foil and set aside. Strain the rest of the mix through a fine sieve into a bowl, squeezing out all the lovely juices from the mix, and then discard the solids - they have done their duty.
|While you are at it, use every single pot, bowl, and plate in the entire house - Sarah|
|The sauce after straining - Damn, that looks goooood.|
If the sauce is not already as thick as cream, reduce on the stove until it is. Place the lamb on whatever starch you fancy (we used sweet potato mash, but buttery tagliatelle, orzo, rice or polenta works too) and pour over the sauce.
Suggested sides: salad greens, ripe tomato & cucumber salad with XVO and balsamic reduction dressing, plus oven roasted celeriac root.
|All salad ingredients from the School Garden, except the heirloom tomato|
|Grown in Detroit, Baby!|
If you want, you can make this a day or two in advance. Go all the way to the end, but refrigerate the sauce and shanks separately. Reheat the sauce and lamb slowly before serving. It will actually taste even better this way.
In hindsight, I'd drop the can of tomato puree - it made the sauce a tad too 'tomato-y' in texture at these smaller volumes at least. I quibble.
*Note I used some of the tops and stems of the celeriac (aka celery root), augmented with the dried celery seeds, instead of the standard 'celery' ingredient, and that worked great. In fact, the touch of bitterness from the leaves and stems offsets the sweetness elsewhere. And standard celery is so damn expensive, when all you need it for is the underlying stock contribution anyway.
The roasted celeriac was tremendous BTW - it had the texture of a firm mushroom, which is maybe because it was so fresh? Recommended.