Braising meat is so easy. As much as I love cooking a perfect medium rare steak, it can be stressful – one minute too much or too little can have a real impact on the finished product. When you’re braising for hours there is no such concern, it’s practically fool proof. And with such a long cooking process, there’s plenty of time for flavours to develop. One of the best braised meats I can think of are lamb shanks. Who doesn’t love fall off the bone tender chunks of well seasoned lamb? I came up with this recipe as I do most, by throwing together a few ingredients that I thought would work well together, seasoning with care and paying attention to the details.
- 4 lamb shanks (“frenched” so that the fell is removed and the meat will shrink away from the end of the bone during cooking to give that nice presentation)
- 6 small nantes carrots, chopped
- one medium sized onion, chopped
- 7 cloves of garlic, chopped
- 2 cups red wine
- 4 cups chicken stock
- 2 bay leaves
- salt and pepper
- olive oil
- 3 tsp aleppo pepper
- 2 tsp dried thyme
- 1 tsp cumin
- 4 peaches
- parsley for garnish
- Combine 2 tsp salt, 2 tsp pepper, 3 tsp alep pepper, 2 chopped garlic cloves, 2 tsp dried thyme, 1 tsp cumin and 1 tbsp olive oil in a small bowl.
- Coat the lamb shanks in the spice mixture and let them marinate over night.
- Heat oven to 300F.
- Heat 2 tbsp of olive oil over medium high heat in your roasting pan.
- Brown the lamb shanks on all sides in the roasting pan, about 8 minutes total per lamb shank.
- Remove lamb shanks and set them aside. Turn heat to medium, add carrots and onions, season with salt and pepper and cook, stirring occasionally, until softened, about 8-10 minutes.
- Add the red wine, chicken stock and bay leaves to the pan and bring to a boil, then return the lamb shanks to the pan.
- Cover the pan and put it in the oven.
- Let the lamb shanks braise for 2 hours and 45 minutes, flipping them after one hour and after 2 hours. The meat will be falling of the bone at this point and your kitchen will be overrun with a fantastic aroma.
Peaches and Plating
- Boil peaches in water for a minute and then shock them in an ice bath.
- Peel the peaches and slice them.
- Melt a tbsp of butter over medium heat in a small frying pan. Sautee the sliced peaches with a bit of cinnamon over medium heat for 6-7 minutes.
- Serve one lamb shank over a bed of couscous topped with some braising liquid and the peaches. Garnish with a bit of parsley and serve.
Suggested wine pairing: A full bodied spicy red. I had enjoyed these with a Corsican wine (Domaine d’Alzipratu Cuvée Fiumeseccu Corse Calvi 2010), which I discovered at one of my favourite restaurants, Damas.
A little Moroccan influence, a little Syrian influence and a whole lot of tasty – there were some bold deep flavours going on here and they all came together nicely. Just as important as all of that spice were the sweet sauteed peaches which imparted some much needed balance. This is a can’t miss meal for those times when you’re in the mood for some comfort food that is simple to prepare but impressive to serve. Particularly with winter approaching, you can bet I’ll be getting my braising game going more frequently.