Tuesday, December 13

Braised Balsamic Lamb Shanks

L.A. has been cold and rainy, making it the perfect backdrop for more braised meat goodness. This time I tried my hand at this recipe for lamb shanks that I stumbled across on Tastespotting (never heard of it? Prepare to spend your next two hours browsing the site). I was a bit hesitant that the sauce would be too sweet from the reduced balsamic vinegar and brown sugar (and in fact I cut out a little bit of sugar in my version), but it paired very nicely with the rich, gamey lamb. I actually think this is my favorite braised dish yet, as the sauce forms a really delicious glaze and the meat was melt-in-your-mouth tender. This is a definitely must-make this winter, whether you’re staying in and watching the rain fall or hosting a holiday dinner for your friends. Make sure to pair it with some mashed potatoes or polenta to soak up all that rich sauce.

Braised Balsamic Lamb Shanks:
  • Heat 2 tbsp. olive oil in a large dutch oven until very hot.
  • Season 3 lb. lamb shanks (about 3 shanks total) with salt and pepper and brown for 4-5 minutes on both sides. Remove and transfer to a plate.
  • Add 2 chopped onions and 1 tbsp. butter to the dutch oven and cook for 10-15 minutes, or until soft and starting to caramelize.
  • Pour in 1/2 c. red wine and cook for another 5 minutes, making sure to scrape the bits from the bottom of the pan.
  • Add in 1 1/2 c. beef stock, 1/2 c. balsamic vinegar, 2 1/2 c. port and 2 tbsp. brown sugar and bring the mixture to a boil.
  • Reduce the heat to low and add in a handful of fresh thyme and the lamb shanks.*
  • Cover the pot and cook for 2 1/2 - 3 hours, turning the lamb every hour or so.
  • Remove the lamb from the pot and divide onto plates.**
  • Discard the thyme and skim the fat from the top of the sauce.
  • Spoon sauce over lamb and serve.

Serves three - four
*Lamb won't be completely submerged in the liquid, but will still cook evenly if turned every hour.
**Or shred the meat and add to pasta, make tacos, etc. This will stretch the meat to feed more people.