Over the past couple of weeks, we have really managed to stock up our freezer. Chicken breasts, lamb chops, ground turkey, turkey cutlets, turkey tenderloins, beef stew meat, a red wine-marinated pot roast, salmon and tilapia filets… you’d think we’d have absolutely no reason to go out and spend more money on meat. But when my grandparents planned an impromptu visit up from Florida, I thought it was the perfect reason to go out and buy some lamb shanks and have them over for dinner.
Lamb shanks are one of those things I only make a couple of times per year, but would love to eat every week. One of my favorite dishes is Greek lamb youvetsi, or lamb shanks braised in a tomato sauce with orzo. There’s something about that fall-off-the-bone tenderness you just can’t beat. I didn’t make lamb youvetski, but I did braise. The method I used is quite simple, yet perfect for an elegant occasion. The only thing you need to remember is to start the night before so that the meat really has time to absorb all the delicious spices.
I served the shanks with a raisin and pine nut couscous, and grilled eggplant slices topped with roasted tomatoes and onions. Dinner was very much enjoyed by all!
Braised Spiced Lamb Shanks
Adapted from Bon Appetit
2 tablespoons ground cumin
1 1/2 tablespoons coriander seeds
1 tablespoon chopped fresh rosemary
1/2 tablespoon curry powder
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon paprika
1/2 teaspoon coarse salt
freshly ground black pepper
1/2 cup plus 1 tablespoon olive oil
4 18- to 20-ounce lamb shanks
6 cups chicken stock or canned low-salt chicken broth
4 garlic cloves, peeled, smashed
1 tablespoon all purpose flour
1 tablespoon tomato paste
Grind coriander seeds in spice or coffee grinder. Transfer to small bowl. Stir in remaining seasonings. Whisk in 1/2 cup oil. Place lamb shanks in 13x9x2-inch glass baking dish. Rub spice oil all over shanks. Cover with plastic wrap; chill overnight, turning occasionally.
Preheat oven to 350°F. Heat 1 tablespoon oil in heavy large ovenproof pot over high heat. Add lamb shanks and cook until brown on all sides, turning occasionally, about 10 minutes, working in batches if necessary. Return all shanks to the pan; add stock and garlic; bring to boil, cover and transfer to oven. Cook 1 hour; remove from oven and turn lamb shanks over. Cover and continue cooking until lamb is tender, about 45 minutes longer. Using tongs, transfer lamb to platter; tent with foil to keep warm.
Pour braising liquid into 4-cup measuring cup. Spoon off fat, reserving 1 tablespoon. Heat reserved fat in heavy large skillet over medium heat. Whisk in flour; stir 2 minutes. Whisk in braising liquid and tomato paste. Boil until gravy coats spoon lightly, about 2 minutes. Serve lamb and vegetables with gravy.