I’m not sure that there is any dish that is better suited for a cold winter day than braised lamb shanks. Like all braised dishes, they are deceptively simple to make and make for great leftovers. Great for one of those days when the entire family is home, unshowered, lounging in their pajamas. I serve this with my personal favorite side dish of creamy polenta, though any absorbent starch will do the trick.
4 tablespoons peanut oil
8 (12 to 14-ounce) lamb shanks
Salt and white pepper
2 medium-size yellow onions, peeled and thinly sliced
4 cloves garlic, peeled
2 tablespoons tomato paste
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 (750-ml) bottle dry red wine, such as Bordeaux
3 fresh plum tomatoes, seeded and diced
2 large carrots, peeled and cut into ¼-inch dice
Pinch saffron threads
5 sprigs mint, plus extra for garnish
5 sprigs rosemary
1 cinnamon stick
4 cardamom pods
1 teaspoon fennel seeds
1 teaspoon cumin seeds
1 teaspoon pink peppercorns
Rind of 1 orange
8 dried figs
8 dried apricots
1) Preheat the oven to 300° F.
2) Place a 14 X 17-inch lidded braising dish on the stovetop over medium-high heat and add the oil. Season the lamb shanks with salt and pepper. Working in batches, sear the meat on all sides until well browned. When done, remove each piece and set aside until all of the lamb has been seared.
3) Add the onions and garlic to the pan and cook until the onions are well caramelized. Add the tomato paste, stir, and cook until the tomato paste begins to brown, about three minutes. Sprinkle the flour evenly over the vegetables, stir and cook for about another four minutes. Add the wine and mix in well.
4) Use a spoon to scrape off all of the fond from the bottom of the pan. Reduce the temperature on the stovetop to medium heat and cook until the liquid thickens, about three to four minutes. Return the lamb to the pan and add the tomatoes, carrots, and saffron. Pour in just enough water to cover the meat. Place the remaining herbs, spices, and the orange rind in a cheesecloth bag, tie closed and then drop that into the pan. Cover the pan and place in the oven for about three hours. At the 2-hour mark add the figs and apricots. Cook for another 30 minutes, or until tender.
5) When fully cooked, remove the lamb from the pan serve in a bowl with some of the onions, tomato, carrots and dried fruits. Garnish with fresh mint.
More Recipes From ‘Le Marais’
Recipe used with permission from “Le Marais: A Rare Steakhouse…Well Done,” by Mark Hennessey and Jose Meirelles (Gefen Publishing House).