October 14, 2010

Braised Lamb Shanks over Garlic Herb Polenta

So with company and travels I haven't been cooking as much...or shall I say blogking as much....anyways I did slow down to make sure I got this amazing recipe up. So I kinda "borrowed" this from the foodnetwork, but added and subtracted some of the elements....It's probably one of the easiest and most tasty dishes I have made in awhile- the reason this recipe stuck out to me so much is because the base vegetables in the dish are blended and not just chopped and thrown in- this technique is new to me and really opened my eyes into the world of extracting all flavors from what you have. I hope you enjoy!

what you need:
Lamb Shanks (I used 2 here but up to 4 is great)
8oz. can of tom. paste (I know, I know use organic w/o sugar)
1-2 C. Stock (chicken here) or water
1.5 C. Red Wine
1 whole tomato
Herbs (thyme, sage, rosemary. the gang)
Bay Leaves
rough chop these guys:
2 carrots
2 celery stalks
3-4 cloves garlic
1 onion
fennel spring/bulb

finely chopped basil
1 T lemon/zest
orange zest
1 T horseradish 
2 cloves grated garlic

Step 0: Heat a dutch up, add EVOO about 1 min. before you start throwing things in.

Step 1: Wash and Season Shanks with S&P don't worry about over doing it.

Step 2: Place the Shanks in hot dutch oven and brown completely should take anywhere between 10-15min. Once browned remove from pan and set aside.

Step 2.5: (which you can work on during step 2) place all of the rough chopped veg. into a food processor and pulverize till it can't go no longer.

Step 3: Degrease dutch oven and add fresh evoo into it, heat up and add blended veggies. Cook them till brown, this takes a bit, but if you drink a glass of wine while do it, you would be surprised how little you actually care.

should have a nice dark appearance to it
Step 4: Once Brown add the can of tom paste and let that brown, at this point I added a whole chopped tomato (seeds and all), the recipe that I 'borrowed' called for twice the amount of paste, but in all actuality I really couldn't bare the thought. Mix it all up and let the paste get kind of a dark color, your jedi nature will tell you when to move on.

Step 5: Once the mush is dry and brown add the wine in small amounts and let it cook down. Essentially you don't want to flood the mush, you just want to have it absorb the wine. Let it boil a bit and reduce till its a nice red color. Add the fresh chopped thyme, sage and rosemary...please use as much as you want!

Step 6: Heat up your stock and add to the pot, you don't want to dilute it too much, but enough to stretch it so that it will cover shanks.

Step 7: Add the Shanks, cover with sauce. Lid it and put it in a 375˚ oven for about 2 hours, rotate them about every 30min, you will see the flesh start to scrunch up from the bone, and when the meat starts to fall off the bone, you know you are ready. If you start to see a lot of fat coming off skim it from the sauce...the ones used were pretty lean so I didn't come across that problem.

Step 8: In a small dish take all of the ingredients for the 'topping' and put into a bowl and stir.

Garlic Herb Polenta

2 Cloves Garlic (grated)
1 tsp EVOO
2 T Fresh Herbs (thyme, sage rosemary)
Bay leaves
1 C Polenta
2 C Stock
freshly grated parmigiano reggiano

Step 1: Pour EVOO into a pot and add garlic, heat on low for a few min. you don't want to brown it just get the flavors out. Add stock and bring to a rapid boil, add bay leaves, Herbs and S&P at this time. The Polenta absorbs all flavors so don't be too frugal with the spices and herbs, usually I add red pepper flakes too, but I was out (sad face).

Step 2: Once at a rapid boil slowly add polenta, whisking till it is lump free, then get rid of the whisk and grab a wooden spoon. 

Step 3: This is where people get overwhelmed- stir the polenta for the first few min. and then put a lid on it and let it cook. about every 2 min. or so check on it, give it a stir and if it seems too thick gradually add a bit of hot broth or water. The color should change from a bright yellow to a soft yellow. Keep this up for a bit tasting along the way, it usually takes 20-30 min. depending on your polenta. I like mine to be pretty stiff so I am usually done when the spoon can stand straight up.

Step 4: remove from heat and drizzle a little EVOO and put in Parm. stir in. 

{for left overs put in a shallow pie pan and cover with plastic wrap, the next day or so cut into a funny shape and saute in olive oil, whatever you do the polenta will harden quickly so deal with it before you sit down to eat. don't say I didn't warn you}

TIME TO EAT!!!!!! Put the Polenta on a plate, followed by the shank, followed by loads of the best sauce ever, followed by a bit of the topping. All of the zests and garlic will start emitting a flavor and smell only grandma kitchens in the old country are able to get. trust me, this meal ruled!


  1. yum!! dusty ate lamb the other night so you guys must be on the same wavelength right now! i want to eat the polenta with sauce sans lamb! rufus looks like a lamb to me so i just can't go there:)

  2. Yum! Loving your recipes...all dishes I'd want to make! :) Kate

  3. Oh my gosh!
    That looks abolutely delicious! I like the pictures you put up and considering that I love polenta I'm tempted to try making it myself.