Monday, December 21, 2009
Bruce Aidells and Denis Kelly's Complete Meat Cookbook has proved an invaluable friend in our kitchen library. Whenever I find myself in need of a little red meat in my life, The Book is there to guide me in its preparation. I'm especially enraptured with this recipe for lamb shanks osso-bucco style. It's the sort of thing I love to whip out on a chilly (or semi-chilly - this is California) winter evening, when the world seems to call out for braised meat, red wine, and polenta. Perfection.
4-6 lamb shanks
1 ounce prosciutto, pancetta, or good old bacon
2 medium onions, sliced
1 carrot, chopped
2 tablespoons garlic
1 cup dry white wine
1 1/2 cups peeled, seeded, and diced fresh tomatoes, or seeded + diced canned tomatoes (the GOOD ones)
2 cups meat stock, preferably beef
2-3 strips of lemon peel
1 bay leaf
1 teaspoon chopped fresh thyme or oregano (I like thyme)
Get the oven up to 325 first off. Find a big oven-safe skillet or pot, then heat up the olive oil. Brown the shanks over high heat - about 5 to 7 minutes all told. Put the meat aside.
Pour off most of the fat from the pan, but not all, you damned puritan. Turn the heat down to medium, then toss in the prosciutto, onions, and carrot. Cook for ten minutes, stirring often, until the vegetables are nice and soft, then put in the garlic. Cook for one more minute, then put in the wine, tomatoes, and stock. Bring this all to a boil.
Toss in the lemon peel, bay leaf, rosemary, thyme, and the lamb shanks, then cover the pot with foil. Put it in the center of the oven. Bake for 1 1/2 to 2 hours, or until the meat is quite tender, turning from time to time during the cooking process. Remove the shanks and cover them to keep them warm. Degrease the sauce, take out the bay leaves and lemon peel, and then reduce by half over high heat. This could take a bit. Be patient. Add salt and pepper at your own discretion.
Serve with polenta or risotto. I'm a polenta girl myself. I served this with the Lee Brother's tarragon-lime carrots and some slow-cooked Southern collard greens, as well as a salad with a simple balsamic vinegrriate. I thought it made for a very nice winter combination. Break out a good Zin and you are living the good life, crappy weather, seasonal depression, and pre-or-post holiday ennui be damned.