Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Lamb with White Beans: a classic French combination

Lamb Shank with White Beans

It has been very cold here, so a hearty dish like this hits the spot.  It is mini-version of the classic French combination of lamb with white beans.  I used lamb shanks instead of the traditional leg or shoulder.

There are many versions of the dish "out there" but I chose to use Julia Child's from Mastering the Art of French Cooking and adapted it for 2.

Takes 3 - 4 hours to make the dish, so give yourself plenty of time.  And remember to soak the beans overnight.

The ingredients are simple but delicious:  rosemary, garlic, bay leaf, onions and carrots plus a little tomato paste, white wine, and beef stock.

Braised Lamb Shanks with White Beans
(adapted from Mastering the art of French Cooking)

Serves 2 generously

2 lamb shanks
2 to 3 T. rendered pork fat or cooking oil
1 carrot, sliced
1 large onion, sliced
1 cup dry white wine
1/4 t. salt
1/8 t. pepper
2 to 3 cups of beef stock
2 parsley sprigs or 1/2 t. dried parsley
1 bay leaf
1/2 t. rosemary, fresh, chopped
1-2 unpeeled cloves garlic
1.5 T. tomato paste
1 1/4 cups cooked white Great Northern beans or 2 15.5-ounce cans

For the beans:  You have two options:  1) soak over night and drain, pick out the bad ones, then drop them into boiling water with 2 t. salt, and simmer for an hour or until tender  or 2) used canned beans, which have been drained and rinsed.  We prefer the first option, but have made this dish both ways.

For the lamb:

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
In a large ovenproof casserole, on medium high heat, render the pork fat down.  Then brown the lamb shanks well on all sides.
Remove to a side platter, including the pork.

Brown vegetables for 2 to 3 minutes.  Remove them with a slotted spoon.
Pour off the excess browning fat.
Add the wine and boil it down rapidly,
 
scraping up coagulated browning juices, until reduced by half.
Season the lamb and place it, its fattiest side up, in the casserole.
Surround it with the browned vegetables.
Pour enough stock to come two thirds of the way up the meat.
 
Stir in the herbs, garlic, and optional tomato paste.
Bring to a simmer on top of the stove.
Lay aluminum foil over the top of the casserole, then the casserole cover.
Place in oven and regulate so that the liquid is maintained at a slow simmer.
Turn and baste meat every half hour.
After 2 hours, Remove the lamb from the casserole when it is to within half an hour of being done.
Strain and degrease the cooking stock, and correct its seasoning, i.e., add salt and pepper if needed.
Return meat and stock to the casserole and surround with the beans.
Bring the casserole again to the simmer on top of the stove.
Cover, and return to the oven until the meat is tender when pierced with a fork, about 30 minutes.
Spoon a bed of white beans into each plate and spoon sauce over the entire dish.

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