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Red Wine-Braised Lamb Shanks

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Braising lamb shanks makes the meat so tender and succulent that it falls off the bone. The cooking technique is a combination of browning and slowing stewing in a small amount of liquid. Choose a pot that can hold the shanks in a single layer, but not much bigger than that. Serve the braised shanks with a sturdy Cabernet Sauvignon wine - it will set them off beautifully.

Prep Time: 20 minutes

Cook Time: 2 hours

Total Time: 2 hours, 20 minutes

Yield: Serves 4

Ingredients:

  • 4 lamb shanks (12 ounces to 1 pound each)
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 large onion, coarsely chopped
  • 3 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 2 cups dry red wine
  • 2 teaspoons grated lemon zest
  • 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried thyme leaves, crumbled
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried rosemary leaves, crumbled
  • Chopped fresh parsley for garnish (optional)

Preparation:

1. Preheat the oven to 325°F.

2. Season the lamb shanks all over with the salt and pepper. Dredge them in the flour and shake off excess.

3. In a large enameled cast-iron casserole or Dutch oven, heat the olive oil over medium-high heat. Add the lamb shanks and brown them on 3 sides, about 4 minutes per side.

4. Add the onion and garlic to the casserole. Add the red wine and bring it to a simmer.

5. Cover the casserole tightly and transfer to the oven. Braise the lamb shanks, turning once, for about 1 1/2 hours, or until tender. Remove the pot from the oven. Skim off and discard the fat from the pan juices.

6. In a small bowl, mix the lemon juice, zest, thyme and rosemary. Add this mixture to the shanks. Cover and bake for 35 minutes, or until very tender.

7. Remove the lamb shanks to a serving platter. Whisk the pan juices to blend. Pour over the shanks. Sprinkle with the parsley and serve.

Recipe Notes

• The braised lamb shanks can be refrigerated in their sauce overnight. Cover and reheat in a 350° oven for 30 minutes, or until warm.
• The pot that you use for braising should be a material that will conduct heat evenly and efficiently to prevent scorching. An enamaled cast-iron pot with a tight-fitting lid is a good choice.
• Cover the pot with a piece of wax paper or parchment paper before setting the lid in place. This will reduce the headspace in the pot and will help to concentrate the flavors of the sauce.
• Large cuts of tough meat, such as shanks, are a good choice for braising, as the slow cooking will break down the hard-to-chew connective tissue and muscle and releases the shanks own juices.
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