Monday, December 12, 2011

Beer Braised Lamb Shanks with Root Vegetables

Hearty and rich, perfect for a winter night. I usually braise with wine in a more Mediterranean style, but this channels Ireland instead. Make this on a weekend, when you can start it in the afternoon and let the lamb braise over very low heat for a few hours. It'll be falling off the bone when it's done. For the beer, choose something medium-dark and not too hoppy (unless you would enjoy that bitter note in your braise). Serve this over mashed potatoes or polenta.

4 medium lamb shanks
Olive oil
Salt and pepper
1 medium onion, chopped
4 cups cubed root vegetables (choose from carrots, parsnips, turnips, rutabaga, celeriac, winter radish)
6 garlic cloves, minced
1 tsp dried thyme
1 sprig fresh rosemary (or 2 tsp dried)
1 12-oz beer
beef broth

Preheat the oven to 500 degrees. Lightly coat the lamb shanks with olive oil, then sprinkle with salt and pepper. Brown for 20-25 minutes in the oven, turning once.

While the lamb browns in the oven, heat a little olive oil in a Dutch oven. Add the onions and root vegetables. Sprinkle in some salt and pepper. Saute over pretty high heat until they begin to get nice and browned. (This generates a ton of rich, complex flavor for your braise). Add the garlic toward the end.

When the lamb is browned, add it to the Dutch oven along with the thyme and rosemary. Pour in the beer, then add enough beef broth to cover the meat about two thirds of the way. Simmer covered for 2-3 hours (longer if you like) over very low heat.

To serve, carefully remove the lamb to a platter. Then, if desired, partially puree the remaining liquid and serve poured over the lamb and mashed potatoes or polenta. Alternatively, strain out the broth and mash the vegetables and serve them on the side. Pour a little of the braising liquid over everything.

Serves 4.

Note: if you opt to strain out the vegetables, you can save the braising liquid (try freezing it) and use it again for another dish in a similar vein. Try it with pot roast or with bone-in chicken and some veggies in the crock pot for an easy and flavorful meal.

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