Let’s start with one of the best dishes we’ve made this winter, a curried tomato-braised lamb shank (recipe below). It came about because Ann and I were tired of the same-olds, it was winter, and winter is the time to braise. I had a look at a couple of my own books to see what we had, How To Braise, and Ruhlman’s Twenty, which has a chapter devoted to braising. Therein lay the the lamb shanks.
These are meltingly tender, cooked in a tomato base with heavy seasonings of curry and cumin. Ras-el-hanout, the Arabic seasoning mixture, is great but a good curry powder will do the trick.
Braised Curried Lamb Shanks
slow cooked lamb shanks in a curried tomato sauce
- 4 lamb shanks
- kosher salt as needed
- all-purpose flour as needed
- 1 large onion large dice
- 2 large carrots large dice
- 5 garlic cloves smashed
- 1 tbsp ground cumin
- 1 tbsp ground coriander
- ½ tsp cayenne powder (optional)
- 2 tsp ras-el-hanout or curry powder (or more if you love curry)
- 1 cinnamon stick (or ½ tsp ground)
- 2 tsp finely minced or crushed garlic
- 1 28-ounce can of whole tomatoes
- 1 cup red wine
- Season the lamb shanks liberally with salt and set aside long enough for the salt to dissolve, 15 minutes or up to 2 days. Dredge the shanks in flour (I put the flour and lamb in a plastic bag and shake).
- In a Dutch oven or heavy ovenproof pot, add ¼ inch oil to the pot over high heat. When the oil is very hot, brown the floured shanks till they have a nice golden brown crust. Remove to a paper-towel-lined plate.
- Heat your oven to 300˚F.
- Pour the excess oil out of the pot. Wipe out the pot if the flour has burned and add a film of fresh oil and, over medium high heat, saute the onion, carrot and garlic till tender, five minutes or so.
- Move the vegetables to the side of the pot and add the cumin, coriander, cayenne (if using), and ras-el-hanout or curry powder, and cinnamon. Stir to toast the spices then stir in the vegetables till they're coated with the spices.
- Nestle the shanks into the pot. Add the tomatoes and red wine (it's best to crush the tomatoes in your hand as you add them to the pot). Cover the pot with a parchment lid (google ruhlman parchment lid for a video), or with the lid left slightly ajar, and place in the oven. Cook for 3 hours or until the shanks a completely tender.
- Carefully remove the shanks from the pot. Blend the braising liquid with a hand blender (or in standing blender). Return the shanks to the pot with the sauce.
- This can be served immediately or refrigerated for up to 5 days, then reheated and served.
These shanks can be garnished with a traditional gremolata (minced parsley, garlic and lemon zest) or with lemon confit and cilantro. I like to serve these with couscous. Ras-el-hanout is a great Arabic seasoning available in good spice stores.
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