Monday, November 25, 2013

The Norman Chronicles: Shanks and Hearts

Here it is, almost Thanksgiving, and when everyone else in the United States is thinking about turkey and dressing and sweet potatoes, I'm salivating at the thought of rich, dark lamb shanks braised to falling-apart lusciousness. That's not to say come Thursday evening we won't be having turkey and fixin's—Dave would pitch a fit if he couldn't put a big bird on the Weber and stand over it with a pint of A-Bomb in his hand—but there are still dinners to make the rest of the week and leftover turkey only goes so far, right?

The reason for my shanky dreams? It's what I did with a couple of Norman's shanks at a dinner for company a month or so ago, one that I want to reprise in the very near future. Though the store definitely won't have the huge 2-plus-pound shanks that Norman so generously provided, I can just double up on smaller shanks and come out with a dinner for six and still have enough leftovers to combine with tomatoes and pasta for dinner a second night.

Braised Lamb Shanks with Artichokes and Olives

3 Tbsp. olive oil
4 lbs. lamb shanks
2 c. onions, chopped in 1/4" dice
2 Tbsp. garlic, chopped fine
2 Italian or red bell peppers, roasted and cut in slivers
1 c. oil-cured or kalamata olives, pitted
16 oz. (2 pkgs.) frozen baby artichoke hearts (or fresh in season, trimmed)
1 1/2 c. roasted or canned tomatoes
2 Tbsp. fresh rosemary leaves, minced
1 c. white wine, such as a sauvignon blanc
1 c. chicken stock
Salt to taste

Preheat oven to 375°.

Trim excess fat from lamb shanks, then generously salt and pepper them. Heat oil in large Dutch oven over medium-high heat. When the oil shimmers, add lamb shanks and brown (in batches if necessary), then remove to a platter. Reduce heat to medium and add onions and garlic to the pot, adding more oil if necessary and scraping up any browned bits of lamb stuck to the bottom of the pot. Sauté till onions are translucent. Add roasted peppers, olives, artichoke hearts, tomatoes and rosemary and bring to a low simmer. Add lamb shanks back to the pot, burying them in the vegetables, and pour the wine and stock over the top.

Put the pot into the oven and roast for 2-3 hours until the lamb is ready to fall off the bone. Remove from the oven and allow to cool until you can remove the meat from the bones. Add salt to taste as needed.

At this point you can serve the braised lamb or, better yet, cool it completely and put in the fridge overnight to allow the flavors to meld. Reheat in a 300° oven and serve with Ayers Creek Farm Amish Butter polenta (or your favorite brand from the store).

Any leftovers can be used for a second dinner when combined with roasted tomatoes and served over pasta.

Read the other posts in The Norman Chronicles: Getting to Shepherd's Pie, Braising Saddles and Neck and Neck.

1 comment:

Jerry C said...

Just a quick thought about when to add the lamb shanks or any other meat to the braising pot. According to Escoffier, adding cold braising liquid to a hot pot draws the moisture or essence from the potted meat. Escoffier made soups using this method. The preferred method for braising is to add the stock to the Bouquet Garni and bring the pot to a boil before adding the meat. I think you'll find this method results in a juicier, more succulent piece of braising meat. One other thought, have Dave sear the shanks on the grill before adding to the pot. This adds a unique smoke flavor to the recipe. Searing te meat can be done a day or two before composing the "Shanks and Hearts."