Monday, September 27, 2010

Rosemary Braised Lamb Shanks

Braised Lamb Shank with Mashed Potatoes
Chuck and I love our "wow this is good" meals. As much as we eat, you'd think the odds were in our favor of having "wow" meals. It is actually quite the opposite, it seems the more types of food you try and the more you cook, the less likely you are to be blown away by your meal. TWSF likes to think this means we know our food a bit more than we did before.

A couple weekends ago we had the opportunity to stay in for a night, relax, and prepare an elaborate meal (yes, we consider cooking for 3 hours relaxing). We decided on braised lamb shanks after spotting 3 shanks for $10 at the White House Farmer's Market. TWSF loves braised lamb shanks, especially from Cafe Atlantico and Central. It's something we typically order if offered on a menu, because prior to this cooking adventure, neither of us knew how to transform the tough lamb shanks into tender, fall-off-the-bone pieces of yummy goodness. We were up for the challenge, and only hoped we would find ourselves with a "wow this is good" dish.
For this meal, we bought everything from local farmers markets, with the exception of the lemon pictured below. I found these beautiful carrots at the USDA farmers market, open on Fridays from 10AM - 2 PM. The rest of the vegetables came from Eastern Market (see our post for more information about farmers markets).
Ingredients from a few different farmers markets
Braised Lamb Shanks with Mashed Potatoes
Serves 2 people

3 lamb shanks (about 2 lbs, we asked the Amish or Mennonite kid manning the meat stand for enough for two people)
olive oil
salt and pepper
4 large carrots
1 yellow onion
10 cloves garlic, minced
1 bottle red wine
1 (28 oz) can whole peeled tomatoes with juice
1 (10.5 oz) can chicken broth
1 (10.5 oz) can beef broth
5 teaspoons chopped fresh rosemary
2 teaspoons chopped fresh thyme
Garlic mashed potatoes

1. Season lamb shanks with salt and pepper. Heat olive oil in a deep pot over medium-high heat. When oil is hot, sear lamb shanks on each side (approximately 4 minutes per side).

2. Remove lamb shanks from pot and set aside. Toss sliced carrots, onions, and garlic in the pot. Cook until onion slices are translucent.

3. Pour the entire bottle of red wine (yes, we said the ENTIRE bottle) into the pot. Stir in tomatoes, chicken broth, and beef broth. Season with rosemary and thyme.

4. Submerge lamb shanks back into pot. Bring to a boil, then reduce to medium-low. Cover and simmer until meat is tender (tender = meat should easily fall off the bone), approximately two hours.

5. Remove cover from pot. Simmer approximately 20 minutes longer. Transfer shanks to a platter, and cover to keep warm (we put them in the oven). Boil juices in pot until thickened. When the sauce coats a spoon, it is probably thick enough.

6. Serve lamb shanks over mashed potatoes. Spoon sauce and vegetables over lamb shanks, and enjoy!

I wish you all could have been in our house to just to smell the lamb while it was braising. It was incredibly intoxicating, and kept making me want to "taste test" the juice. We are lucky enough to have a roof deck with a view of DC rooftops, but never really take advantage of it. It was a gorgeous evening, so TWSF pulled out another bottle of wine, set up some glasses and our new candle lantern (thank you, World Market), and had a romantic "wow this is good" meal made by us.

Romantic dinner on the roof

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