Lamb Shanks are a delicacy which is often forgotten about by home cooks. Not as common as other stewing meat options they are not to be missed. They were my choice this year for Christmas dinner replacing the rib roast we normally have and everyone agreed it was a good idea!
They need some time and attention and are not a really super meaty but they are very tasty and make a stunning visual impact on the table. In this recipe I paired them with simply pan fried or roasted Brussel sprouts. Simply place the brussel sprouts cut in half and seasoning with salt pepper and garlic powder, face down in a oiled frying pan. Cook over med heat till browned and caramelized. They will still have a little crunch.
The lamb shanks are stewed then the sauce is reduced and thickened. The shanks are placed back in the pot and when ready to serve a parsley and lemon zest gremolata is sprinkled over the shanks giving some citrus and herbal freshness to the dish and cutting the rich sauce.
Make these while the weather still makes you crave some rich comforting food to fill your belly and warm up your spirits.
Lamb Shanks with Gremolata
4 to 6 shanks from your butcher
1 cup each of finely chopped onion, celery and carrots
1 cup red wine
3-4 cups of beef broth just till the shanks are almost completly covered
1 Tablespoon chopped rosemary
1 Tablespoon chopped sage leaves
1 teaspoon salt
10 cloves garlic whole
2 bay leaves
1 small can tomato paste
3 Tablespoons of flour
Zest of one lemon
3/4 cup coarsely chopped parley leaves
Place some oil in a large heavy bottomed stew pot and bring the temperature up. Salt and pepper the shanks well and then brown all over in the oil. You might have to do this in batches.
Remove from the pot and add a bit more oil and then the vegetables. Cook them stirring constantly till soft but not browned. With the flat of your knife smash the garlic till it cracks open then add whole chunks into the pot. Cook for about 2 or 3 mins. or until the garlic blooms. Add the spices and herbs and stir a minute or so.
Add the wine and the tomato paste and stir is up till the tomato paste is disolved. Now add the shanks back to the pot and nestle in the vegetables, then add the stock just till it almost completely covers the meat.
Cook over medium heat at a slow simmer for about 1 and half to 2 hours. When the meat is tender remove from the sauce carefully. Fish out the bay leaves and then bring to a boil till reduced by a third. Combine the flour and remaining stock or some water in a small bowl and stir till smooth. Slowly stir into the sauce. Continue to cook until the sauce has thickened. Place the meat back in the pot and gently rewarm the meat till ready to serve. Place on a platter or on plates and sprinkle with the parsley and lemon rind and then season with sea salt.