Sunday, January 3, 2010

My Mother-in-Law's Favorite Lamb Shank recipe

This recipe is fabulous, just as my mother-in-law, Dee, said it would be. (see my post Cuisinarts & Cookbooks)  But it was so good that Tom and I went to the store the very next day, and bought more lamb to add to the braising liquid we had saved, so we could eat it again asap.

If you haven't ever tried lamb shanks before, this is the recipe for you.  Try it on a cold night when you want something hearty.  (However, my mother-in-law makes it in the summer when it is beastly hot, so it must be good then, too. But I wouldn't want to turn on the oven.) 

FYI -- I cut the recipe in half and cooked only two shanks.  Allow 4 hours.  It cooks at a low temperature for a long time.

Tom Valenti's Lamb Shanks
from Dee's recipe collection:  Parade Magazine, February 24, 2002,
originally in Welcome to My Kitchen by NYC chef, Tom Valenti

Serves 6

6 lamb foreshanks
coarse salt and pepper, to taste
3 T. plus 1/4c olive oil
2 ribs celery, roughly chopped
1 carrot, roughly chopped
1 onion, roughly chopped
1/3 cup tomato paste
5 springs of fresh thyme
1 bay leaf
8 whole black peppercorns
3 anchovy fillets (we used anchovy paste)
1 whole head of garlic, cut in half crosswise
2 cups red wine
1 cup white wine
1/3 cup white-wine vinegar
1 t. sugar
2 cups beef broth and 2 cups chicken broth
white bean puree, for serving (we used white beans) as an accompaniment

Preheat oven to 325 degrees.  Season the lamb with salt and pepper.

Heat 3 T. oil in a pot over medium-high heat.  Add the celery, carrot and onion; cook until very soft, 8 to 10  minutes.

Add the tomato paste and cook 1 to 2 minutes. 

Add the thyme, bay leaf, peppercorns, anchovies and garlic; cook 3 minutes.

Add the wines, vinegar and sugar; raise the heat to high and bring to a boil.

Lower the heat to medium and add the broths.  Leave over medium heat while you brown the lamb shanks.

Pour the remaining 1/4 cup of olive oil into a saute pan.  Over medium-high heat, brown the lamb shanks well on all sides, using tongs to flip them over.

Tranfer lamb shanks to a roasting pan and

pour the braising liquid on top. 

Cover with aluminum foil and cook in the preheated oven for 1 hour. 

Remove the foil and cook 2.5 to 3 hours more turning the shanks over every half hour until the meat is very soft. 

Remove the shanks from the braising liquid and strain the liquid.  Skim any fat that rises to the surface and use the liquid as a sauce. 

Serve in shallow bowls atop White Bean Puree.

I wasn't sure what Tony Valenti meant by White Bean Puree.  I gently simmered a can of white cannelini beans with a few cloves and some tomato paste and stock, then seasoned well.

Tony Valenti's balance of flavors and cooking technique come together to make this recipe truly memorable.

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