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A Cure for the January Blahs: Braised Lamb Shanks

Braised, then slow-cooked lamb shanks in a tomato beef broth with vegetables, thyme and rosemary.

I don’t know what it is about January that makes me want to hunker down on the couch and eat meat that you can cut with a spoon, but I have myself a bad case of the slow cooked meat lovies. 

These Braised Lamb Shanks are a cut that is best when braised, then slow-cooked over many hours.  They take some time, but the end product is worth the wait.

I found myself on Saturday late morning braising several pieces of meat that looked like they were right out of The Flinstones.   I most certainly had my own little Bam-Bam at my feet, and then in my arms… .and then at my feet again.   I also had an able bodied 5 year old that thoroughly enjoyed adding a variety of ingredients to the slow-cooker.  Family slow-cooking is becoming a winter weekend tradition.

So here’s how it went.

1.  Flour and Braise.   I put 2 tbsp olive oil and 1 tbsp of butter in the slow cooker on braise and got it sizzling.  If you don’t have a braise option on your slow-cooker, you can do this in a dutch oven stovetop.  I then put 1/3 cup of flour on a plate and then generously ground sea salt and fresh pepper into the flour so that the flour was filled with little black and white flecks.  I dredged each shank in the mixture, making sure it was fully coated all over.  This unfortunately is not a gluten free recipe, although I think you could probably easily omit the flour and brown the meat without it.  I don’t think it would drastically change the end product.  This took about 5-7 minutes.  I removed the meat to a plate.

2.  Cook the Veggies.  I discarded all but 1 tbsp of the fat and added in a combination of carrots, shallots and celery, sauteing them until they were softened.  Then I added in some garlic, sauteing for 1-2 minutes more.

3. Make your stock.  Into the pot then went a can of diced tomatoes, 1 1/2 cups of beef stock and 1 cup of italian red blend (read:  cheap, medium bodied wine that is good enough to drink while cooking, although necessarily at 11 am on a Saturday morning).  I tossed in a few sprigs each of thyme and rosemary.  I brought it to a boil.  At this point, you can transfer the mixture to a slow cooker and add back in the meat.

4. Walk away for 8 hours.  Set the slow cooker on low and walk away for 8 hours.

I am not sure whether Fred and Wilma ate like we did on Saturday night.  I am not sure that I care.   But trust me.  This is a succulent and tender dinner to satisfy your heart, soul and tummy and cure the January blahs.   Lamb Shanks will definitely be a repeat dinner over the coming winter weekends.  We served it over polenta along with some Quick Roasted Broccolini, but mashed potatoes and sauteed spinach would work fine as well.

If it sounds good to you, make it yourself or come on over.  This is a meal worth sharing!

Braised Lamb Shanks

Author: Julie du Pont

Recipe type: Main

Prep time:  30 mins

Cook time:  8 hours

Total time:  8 hours 30 mins

 

Serves: 4 

 

Ingredients

  • 1 tbsp butter
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • ⅓ cup flour
  • Ground sea salt and pepper
  • 4 lamb shanks (3½ to 4 lbs)
  • 2 carrots, chopped
  • 2 celery stalks, chopped
  • 2 shallots, finely chopped
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 can diced tomatoes (14.5 oz)
  • 1½ cup beef broth
  • 1 cup medium bodied red wine
  • 3 sprigs of thyme
  • 3 sprigs of rosemary
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Instructions

  1. Heat 1 tbsp olive oil and 2 tbsp butter in a dutch oven or slow cooker with a braise option.
  2. Meanwhile, on a large plate spread out ⅓ cup of flour and generously grind sea salt and pepper onto the flour.
  3. Dredge the lamb shanks in the flour mixture, tossing to coat evenly all over.
  4. Add lamb shanks to the oil and brown on all sides, about 5-7 minutes.
  5. Remove shanks to a plate and pour off all but 1 tbsp of the fat.
  6. Add carrots, celery and shallots to the pan and saute for 4 minutes, until softened.
  7. Add garlic and saute for 1-2 minutes more.
  8. Add diced tomatoes and stir with a wooden spoon to evenly distribute with the veggies.
  9. Add in stock, wine, thyme and rosemary and bring to a boil.
  10. (If necessary, transfer the broth to a slow cooker).
  11. Add the shanks to the broth and cook on low in the slow cooker for 8 hours.

Julie du Pont is a Darien resident, mom and lawyer.  She blogs about food and entertaining at weekend table.

This post is contributed by a community member. The views expressed in this blog are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Patch Media Corporation. Everyone is welcome to submit a post to Patch. If you'd like to post a blog, go here to get started.

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