Braising is a perfect activity for a rainy day. It’s a combination of dry and wet heat cooking. The meat is typically seared over high heat until browned, and then cooked slowly in a flavorful liquid over low heat. This low and slow cooking breaks down the tough connective tissue. The meat takes on the flavors of the braising liquid it’s bathing in. The key ingredients are a good drinking wine, chicken or vegetable broth, fresh herbs and a variety of vegetables. This braising liquid creates a wonderful aroma in the kitchen during the hours it takes for the meat to break down.
I’ve been craving a warm, hearty, one pot meal for a long time. Pour yourself a glass of wine, pull out a good book and relax while the meat braises in the oven. The flavors meld as the dish sits, so this is a perfect meal to make ahead. Don’t forget to save the braising liquid if you refrigerate the dish before serving.
- 6 lamb shanks
- Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
- 2-3 tablespoons olive oil or grapeseed oil
- 2 medium onions, cut in quarters
- 5 carrots, cut into thick rounds
- 2 garlic cloves, peeled
- 3 tablespoons tomato paste
- 2 cups red wine
- 2 1/2 cups chicken stock
- 1 can (28 oz) chopped tomatoes
- 3 sprigs each rosemary and thyme
- 1 tablespoon sherry vinegar (optional)
Pre-heat the oven to 325 degrees. Season the lamb shanks with salt and pepper. Heat the oil in a large Dutch oven (or heavy-bottomed pan) over medium-high heat. Brown the lamb shanks in batches, until golden brown on all sides. Transfer the shanks to a plate.
Reduce the heat to medium and add the onion and carrots to the pot. Cook for about 10 minutes or until the the vegetables are softened, stirring occasionally. Add the garlic cloves and cook for 2 more minutes. Stir in the tomato paste, wine, stock, tomatoes and fresh herbs. Add a teaspoon of salt and a few grinds of pepper. Return the lamb shanks to the pot, submerging them as best you can. Bring the pot to a boil and cover, put it in the oven. Cook for 2 1/2-3 hours, or until the meat is almost falling off the bone. Add the sherry vinegar and adjust the seasoning as needed. Once the lamb is done, let it cool before refrigerating. This dish can be made a couple of days ahead. The fat will rise to the top after you refrigerate it and you can skim it off. Serve it over your favorite carb. Serves 6.