Delicious Braised Lamb Shanks
What’s fabulous about braised lamb shanks?
First, the lamb demands a marination of mint marmalade, rosemary, garlic, and laced with an Italian fig balsamic which slumbered over night. Second, it’s the combination cooking method (sautéing & simmering) that causes the flavors to concentrate and intensify, producing fork tender meat, plus a sauce so rich in flavor that causes you to scream for Mommy!
It’s such a sexy way to cook…long and slow. That combination of sautéing, then adding a braising liquid (3/4’s the way up the side of your pot, but not submerging lamb shanks), bringing the liquid up to a boil then lowering the temperature to simmering stage, sealing it with a lid, and putting it in an oven, allowing the lamb to slowly cook for 3 1/2 hours or until fork tender will give you delicious braised lamb shanks. You can not rush a braise! If you do…you will commit the mortal sin of failing to reach the Nirvana stage of ecstasy!
But, Hey There… it’s what you add in between! The sautéing of the mirepoix and garlic after the lamb shanks, seasoning with grey sea salt and cracked black pepper, deglazing with a tawny port wine, adding a thickening agent, then pouring a rich beef stock, following with fresh cut figs, and perfuming this braise with mint and rosemary.
Braising showcases the concept of layering of flavors, one on top of the other to reach the final taste ecstasy of the Japanese meaning of Umami (deliciousness), along with the aroma and mouth feel. Wow! If this doesn’t hike your skirt or blow cold air up your pant’s leg…I don’t know what would?
- Copper or Le Creuset oven 5-6 Qt capacity (to easily fit 4 lamb shanks) *
- 1 ea. Shun Knives chef knife and utility knife *
- 1 ea. Large, medium, and small mixing bowls
- Measuring spoons and cups
- Rubber spatular
- Digital thermometer
- 3 Qtr. Sauce pan
- Chinois or fine mesh strainer
- Ladle, small
- Gravy boat *
- 4 Lamb shanks, trimmed to leave a clean, attractive length of bone *
Lamb Marinade Rub:
- 8 oz Mint Jelly *
- 4 Garlic, cloves minched
- 1-2 Rosemary sprig, leaves removed from stem
- 3 T Olive oil
- 1 t Sea Salt
- 1/4 C Fig Vincotto Vinegar *
Braising : Ingredients
- 1/4 C Extra virgin olive oil
- 1 Lg Onion, small diced
- 1 Carrots, small diced
- 1 Celery stalk, small diced
- 4 Lg Garlic cloves, minced
- 1 t Red pepper flakes
- 1/2 t Black pepper, course ground
- 1 T Anchovy paste *
- 1/2 C Flour
- 2 T Tomato paste in tube or can
- 4 C Ruby Red Port wine
- 2 T Fig preserves *
- 1 1/2 Pt Fresh Figs, cut in half (reserve 1/2 pt for garnishing)
- 4 1/2 C Beef stock
- 1.5 oz Demi glace *
- 3 Thyme sprigs
- 1-2 Rosemary sprigs
- 2-3 Bay leaves
- 2-3 Mint sprigs
- Salt and Pepper to taste
- 1 Acorn squash, sliced in 1/2″ half moons
- 1-2 Bu Baby carrots, garnet color, scrubed 1″ top kept on, sliced in half
- 24 oz Tri-Color baby potatoes (white, purple, and red)
- 1 Bu Spring Onions, red/purple, sliced in half
- 1 Lb Brussel sprouts, sliced in half
- 3 Lg Garlic, cloves smashed
- 3-5 Thyme, sprigs
- 2-3 Rosemary, stems
- 3-4 T Extra Virgin Olive, Hazelnut, or Walnut oil
- 2-3 T Balsamic vinegar
- 1 t Ea Sea Salt and Cracked Black Pepper (combination of black, green and/or pink peppercorns
Chef Gerrie’s Notes:
* European Copper or Le Creuset dutch ovens are my favorite braising vessel. They are beautiful, easy to clean, and will last you a life time! William Sonoma or Sur la Table is were I go to shop. It’s as bad as going grocery shopping… never leave empty handed. LOL
* Shun Knives are great! These “blades”were inspired by ancient Japanese swords. Shun artisans produce blades of unparalleled quality and exquisite sharpness, each requiring at least 100 handcrafted steps to complete! And they have a life guarantee.
* Gravy Boat is an excellent vessel to use when decorating a plate with sauce or draping sauce over your cooked product. You can purchase metal ones for easy use. You have a lot more control of placement with your sauce than a ladle.
* Mint Jelly This mint jelly is really great to use as part of a marinade for lamb, pork or any fowl. I have mixed it with red vermouth, red wine, or white wine and used this concoction as a basting sauce while grilling meats.
* Fig Vincotto Vinegar OMG this fig vincotto is the bomb! You can pour it over ice cream. Vino cotto, saba, and petimezi, mosto cotto means “cooked must.” The “must” is smashed grapes that in this case are cooked down into a delectable sweet sauce with the consistency of maple syrup. It is heavenly on fruit, cheese, or in salad dressings. It also comes in a raspberry, lemon, orange, and carob vincotto. This is not just fig extract addition, like so many other vinegars producers do. Oh NO!!!
* Anchovy Paste is the Chef’s secret ingredients! It’s is the most used condiment. ItAnchovy paste has been used for centuries to provide flavor to foods and as a source of nutrients, and it is a part of the cuisines of Great Britain, Italy, the Philippines and Vietnam. It is a major export product of Morocco.
* Figs preserves is one of the most versatile condiments, besides for breads or cheeses, It gives a punch to meats and roasted vegetables.
* Demi glace is also another secret ingredient. The slow reduction of stocks and sauces. that produces a true concentrate of the stock or sauce. In the culinary world it is called flavor booster. Add a teaspoon of this and turn your stew or sauce into HEAVEN! This product is from More Than Gourmet. You must check out all of their products.
- Trim or have the lamb shanks trimmed, exposing the shank bone. Ask your butcher to do it for you. Combine all the marinade ingredients and cover trimmed lamb shanks well. Transfer seasoned lamb shanks into plastic zip-lock bag and hold in refrigerator over night. Or don’t forget if your short on space in your frig…get out the ole igloo cooler!
2. Prep braising ingredients and roasted vegetables. Make sure you toss the roasting vegetables with oil and vinegar. Be sure you season with sea salt, cracked black pepper, and fresh herbs.
3. Let’s start the braise. Braising is a combination of cooking methods. First, in hot (medium high heat) dutch oven add the olive oil, then sear the shanks all over until nice and brown…making sure you regulate the heat so you don’t burn them! Remove shanks and hold. Pre heat the oven to 325° F.
4. Add the mirepoix…onions, celery, and carrots. Lower the heat to medium and saute until onions are transparent and celery and carrots are just tender about 3-5 minutes. Now stir in the garlic, red pepper flakes, black pepper, and anchovy paste.
5. It’s time to start the base of the braising liquid. Stir in the flour. Then add the tomato paste and mix well. This forms a paste that sets up as a thickening agent for that sexy braising sauce. Now add the port wine and stir. Turn up the heat and bring up too a low boil, so you can cook the alcohol off. Follow with the fig preserves and figs.
6. Stir in the beef stock and follow with the demi glace (making sure the demi glace is disolved), before adding the herbs. Now add the seared lamb shanks (the braising liquid should be about 3/4’s the way up the sides of the your vessel but not covering the shanks)and bring up to a boil then lower the heat to medium low, cover with a tight fitting lid. Place in oven and let the braise cook slowly for 3 1/2 hours or until fork tender.
7. Once Lamb Shanks are done remove and keep warm. Raise up the oven to 350° F. Roast vegetables for 30 minutes.
8. Time to strain the braising liquid. Strain the braising liquid into a 3 qtr. sauce pot. Bring up the sauce to a medium simmer and reduce by 1/3. This will take about 10-12 minutes. The sauce should be able to coat the back of a spoon. Keep warm.
9. Plate up and drape with sauce using a gravy boat and serve with the roasted vegetables and garnish with figs.