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If you have never done a slow-braise, you really need to try it. It is so easy and delicious.
This recipe is great for a dinner party because you can make it in advance
The real trick to a great slow braise is browning the meat well.
I mean it.
You have to really really get a good crust on the meat before adding any liquid. So be sure to pat your meat dry with paper towels before you cook it so it doesn’t steam, but browns, AND be sure both the pot and the oil are hot before adding the meat. When cooking, don’t mess around with it too much, let the meat sit and brown, when it’s brown enough, turn and brown the other sides. If the meat sticks to the pot when you go to try to turn it, it’s not ready to be turned. Give it a few more minutes before you try again. When ready the meat will come off easily from the pot. Of course, using a good Dutch oven, cast iron or a stainless steel pot will give you much better browning results than a non-stick pot; which also should be kept a lower temperature due to the coating.
(OK…I know, these are NOT lamb shanks. They are beef short-ribs. BUT this is the color of brown you are looking for.)
This recipe for Slow-Braised Lamb Shanks is great for a dinner party because you can make it in advance, it’s actually BETTER if made a few days ahead of time. You also have choices about how you cook it. Slow cook in the oven or on top of the stove. Make it in your crock-pot and braise all day or use a pressure cooker and cut the cooking time to an hour. I love using the pressure cooker because it keeps the meat so moist, but all cooking methods give you a tender, fall off the bone delicious dinner. It’s perfect for those days when the weather is cold and you want a little comfort food.
To start you need some meaty lamb shanks, don’t have the butcher cut them or anything…just get the shanks and start cooking.
Dry the shanks with a paper towel (dry meat browns, wet meat steams); season generously with salt and pepper. Heat the oil in a large Dutch oven and brown the shanks well on all sides; do this in batches so the meat browns well. Once the shanks are browed, remove them to a platter and lower the heat to medium-low. Add the lemon slices and let them just start to brown; add the garlic, tomatoes, white wine, chicken stock, rosemary sprigs and the herbs de Provence. Bring to a simmer; cover and cook very slowly on the stove top or in a 325 °F oven for 3 hours. Or you can put this in your crock pot and cook all day on low. (If you are in a hurry, you can also pressure cook these for 1 hour).
After your shanks are cooked, remove the rosemary sprigs (all of the leaves will have fallen off); remove the lamb shanks and put them on a platter, cover with foil and place in the warm oven (heat off) while you prepare the sauce.
Pour the "slurry" into the simmering liquid and stir until the sauce thickens. Serve the shanks and sauce over polenta, mashed potatoes or noodles.
*herbs de Provence is a combination of dried basil, thyme, lavender, and fennel.
Wine Recommendation: With the deep rich flavors of this stew, any red wine will work; but a California Cabernet Sauvignon is perfect with its deep notes of dark fruit and herbs such as bay leaf and rosemary. Other great choices are Malbec, Merlot or Cab Franc.
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