Braising is my favorite cooking method for winter so when I saw braised lamb shanks on the menu at Kutsher’s Tribeca, I was excited. This was my first time eating at this modern Jewish American bistro which the recently opened at 186 Franklin Street in Tribeca. We went on a Sunday night and their soft white space, accented with natural wood gave the dining room a mellow retro 60′s feeling which was just right for a quite Sunday dinner that was the bookend to a busy weekend up in Connecticut.
When my enormous lamb shank arrived it smelled of roasted tomatoes and Moroccan spices and it looked divine. When my fork touched the meat it fell into a softly shredded pile of glistening goodness. The braising process had infused the lamb with the sweetness of the currents and fresh parsley gremolata brightened the dish and provided a welcome counterpoint to the richness of the meat.
We’re going to have a lot of leftovers but they’ll be great in a spicy lamb sandwich. Add shredded cabbage, pickles, shredded carrots, tomatoes, hot sauce, and lots of tahini to the lamb and I’m already looking forward to Saturday afternoon leftovers.
This is the type of recipe that improves with age, so its great to make it the day before your dinner party. Just reheat, covered, in a 325°F oven 30 to 40 minutes. An extra bonus if you make it ahead is that after you refrigerate it, its easy to remove the excess fat before you reheat it.
I used a garlic press. I know a lot of people don’t like garlic presses and recipes always tell you to chop the garlic but I love my garlic press! It saves time and no one gets surprised by a big chuck of garlic that didn’t get minced properly.
I’m a fan ingredient substitution. I grew up in a small rural town and the grocery store was an hour away. If you didn’t have an ingredient you had two options: figure out a suitable substitution or wait and make the dish next week after the grocery run. Here I used prunes instead on raisins because I already had the prunes and wanted to use them up. Anything in the raisin, current, or prune family would be good in this dish. Maybe even apricots if you’re feeling really wild. Also I only had whole cloves so I used a couple of those instead of the ground cloves. Now I just have to remember to tell my boyfriend to be on the look out for stray cloves at dinner tonight.
Braised Lamb Shanks with Moroccan Spices over Lentils topped with Gremolata (serves 6)
Braised Lamb Shanks (see recipes for lentils and gremolata below)
- 1 cup all purpose flour
- 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon, divided
- 1 3/4 teaspoons ground cardamom, divided
- 6 1- to 1 1/4-pound lamb shanks
- 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
- 12 green onions, chopped, divided
- 6 large garlic cloves, chopped
- 1 14.5-ounce can diced tomatoes in juice
- 1 3/4 cups (14 ounces) beef broth
- 1/4 cup golden raisins
- 1 tablespoon tomato paste
- Large pinch of ground cloves
Preheat oven to 325°F. Mix flour, 1 teaspoon cinnamon, 1 teaspoon cardamom, 1 teaspoon salt, and 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper in pie dish to blend. Working with 1 lamb shank at a time, coat shanks in seasoned flour. Heat oil in heavy large skillet over medium-high heat. Add 3 lamb shanks. Sauté until brown, turning occasionally, 10 to 12 minutes. Transfer lamb to large roasting pan. Repeat with remaining 3 lamb shanks.
Add half of green onions to same skillet. Reduce heat to low; stir 2 minutes. Add garlic; stir 30 seconds. Add tomatoes with juice, broth, raisins, tomato paste, remaining 1 teaspoon cinnamon, 3/4 teaspoon cardamom, and cloves. Increase heat and bring to boil, scraping up browned bits. Pour broth mixture over lamb.
Cover roasting pan with foil; place in oven. Braise lamb until tender, turning every 30 minutes, about 3 hours. In the meantime make the lentils and gremolata.
- 3 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 cup finely chopped onion
- 2/3 cup finely chopped carrot
- 1/2 cup finely chopped celery
- 1 1/4 cups dried green lentils
- 4 cups chicken stock or canned low-salt chicken broth
Heat oil in heavy medium saucepan over medium-high heat. Add onion, carrot, and celery and sauté until slightly softened, about 5 minutes.
Add lentils and stir 1 minute. Add stock and bring to boil. Reduce heat to medium-low; cover and simmer until lentils are just tender, stirring occasionally, about 35 minutes. Season with salt and pepper.
- 3/4 cup chopped fresh Italian parsley
- 4 large garlic cloves, finely chopped
- 3 large tablespoons finely grated lemon peel
- 2 teaspoons lemon juce
Mix all ingredients in small bowl. (Can be made 4 hours ahead. Cover and refrigerate.)
Spoon lentils onto 6 plates. Transfer, very carefully (the lamb will super tender) a shank to each plate. Spoon sauce over lamb. Finish with a heavy sprinkle on gremolata and serve.