Recipe: braised lamb shanks with lentils
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I’ve been a good girl.
I’ve been cleaning out my freezer. People keep telling me I just need to buy a second refrigerator/freezer, but I can only imagine how much more food I could potentially squirrel away and forget about if I had two freezers. No, it’s good to rediscover those little gems squished alllll the way in the back corner while they are still recognizable and consumable. So when Lava Lake Ranch shipped me some of their beautiful 100% organic, grass-fed lamb cuts earlier this month (FTC disclosure), I was determined to use the largest pieces – the shanks – first, to keep the volume of frozens down in my freezer. As luck would have it (or negligence, you pick) there were two more hind shanks from Lava Lake buried under several bags of green chiles on the lower shelf. Four shanks in total… sweet.
Knowing next to zippo about lamb, I asked the twitterverse if I should braise or roast the lamb shanks. Overwhelmingly, the twitterverse replied BRAISE. Lately I have had a hankering for lentils and thought what better way to enjoy the lamb than with lentils? Not to mention, there is nothing quite delightful as a slow-braised dish on a cold evening in the Colorado Rockies. So here’s the odd bit about this post… I can’t reproduce the recipe here, but I can list the ingredients and I describe what I did to make it. You can always head over to the Seattle Times for the original (but they don’t have pictures).
The first step after preheating the oven to 350°F was to sear the seasoned lamb shanks in a little oil on high heat in a Dutch oven. Searing all sides took about ten minutes for me, but it was worth it for the fond (that lovely brown crust) you get on the bottom of the pan. That’s the good stuff. That’s the FLAVOR.
cracked peppercorns, garlic, rosemary, bay leaves, onion
salt and pepper to season the shanks
After removing the shanks to a plate, I had to add a bit more oil to sauté the onions, garlic, herbs, and spices. According to the recipe, I was supposed to have lamb fat left after the searing, but this lamb is pretty lean (either that, or I trimmed all of the fat before searing – it’s not like I know what I’m doing here). When the onions softened up, I added the amber ale and the chicken broth to the pot. Be sure to stir it about and dissolve the fond from the pan. Remember what I said about FLAVOR? Not only does it give your broth great flavor, but it makes cleanup so much easier. Once the liquid came to a boil, I placed the shanks back into the pot, put the lid on tightly, and set the whole thing in the oven for 90 minutes.
keep that fond in the pan
pour in the beer
place the seared shanks into the liquid
**Jump for more butter**