My friends, Matt & Cody, had a 4-pack of frozen lamb shanks in their freezer that Cody's mom had given them several months back (thanks Sandi!). We have been talking about braising them for months and finally put my lamb skills to the test yesterday. Matt brought the lamb over and I thawed it in my fridge on Wednesday. Once it was thawed, I marinated it in a mixture of olive oil, dijon mustard, lemon Juice, lemon zest, garlic, salt and pepper.
I let it marinate all day in the fridge, and then started the braising. I browned the shanks in a large, hot cast iron pot. There were 4 shanks, so I browned them on all sides, two at a time, in olive oil and reserved them on a plate. Next I added 2 medium sweet onions, quartered and broken apart, and let those sauté until they began to soften. I tossed in about 15-20 cloves of garlic (peeled and smashed) and 1 1/2–2 cups of carrots (peeled and cut in 2-inch pieces) and let that cook for another 5–7 minutes. I deglazed the pan with red wine, scraping up all the flavorful brown bits, then added the rest of the wine (I used a bottle of Shiraz), 2 cups of water, 2 packets each of chicken broth concentrate and beef broth concentrate (available at Whole Foods Market), about 1/4 cup each of chopped fresh rosemary and thyme leaves, the juice and zest of 1 lemon and one 28 ounce can of whole peeled tomatoes with their juice. I returned the shanks to the pan, pressing them down to submerge them and brought the pot to a boil. Then I reduced the heat to medium-low, covered and allowed to braise for about 3 hours.
The meat was tender and falling off the bone and the flavors were amazing! The citrus and herbs really added a depth and kept the meat from tasting remotely gamey. Our friend Erin, who has a self proclaimed dislike for lamb, was convinced to take a small taste. She asked for a second bite, need I say more. The lamb paired nicely with a beautiful bottle of Cabernet. (Thanks Erin!)
We ended the night with a fabulous glass of port that I had left from my birthday and pumpkin carving. Good food, good friends and good wine... that is what it's all about!
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