Those of you who have been following my posts know how huge a fan I am of lamb, the other red meat. From ground lamb to a whole leg and everything in between, I gravitate to the richness of this meat, especially when prepared with a Middle Eastern or Moroccan flavor palate.
Today’s preparation of meaty Australian lamb shanks is my adaptation of a recipe from “Cooking with Daniel Boulud”, for his Leg of lamb Cleopatra. I use most of his spices and aromatic vegetables, and added pre-soaked dried cannelini beans to the dish to soak up all that meaty flavor.
It’s key to lay your lamb shanks in one layer, and for this my 9-1/2 quart oval Dutch oven is perfect for four. If you’re preparing more, bring out that large high-sided roasting pan you use for your turkey and keep it very tightly covered with heavy-duty aluminum foil once it goes into the oven.
BRAISED LAMB SHANKS CLEOPATRA WITH BEANS
4-6 lamb shanks, preferably Australian or New Zealand, weighing 12-16 ounces each
3/4 lb. dried cannelini beans (white kidney beans), soaked overnight in 6-7 cups water and 1 tbsp salt; rinse and drain before adding to your pot
Spice Paste Rub
1-1/2 T cumin
1 t cinnamon
½ t allspice
½ T coriander
¼ t nutmeg
½ T cardamom
½ t ground ginger
½ t ground anise
pinch of ground cloves
1 t black pepper
1 t kosher salt
1 small shallot minced
About 3 T extra virgin olive oil, enough to make a paste when combined with above spices, plus more for browning the lamb
Aromatic Vegetables – all coarsely chopped
2 medium sweet onions
1 very large shallot
3 large carrots
1 small head fennel
1 stalk celery
6 medium sized garlic cloves, or 3 very large
1 cup full-bodied red wine
6-7 cups beef broth
1 drained 14.5 ounce can diced or crushed Muir Glen fire-roasted tomatoes, or 1 cup chunky marinara sauce
Combine spice paste ingredients in large bowl and add the lamb shanks, rubbing the paste all over. Transfer to a large ziploc bag or other container and refrigerate overnight.
When ready to cook, preheat oven to 350. Heat about ¼ cup olive oil in very large Dutch oven or roasting pan, as described above, on medium high heat and brown the lamb shanks, in batches if necessary. Remove to a plate.
Lower the heat to medium and add all aromatic vegetables, sauteeing about 10 minutes.
Add the wine gradually to deglaze the brown bits from the pan. Return the lamb shanks to the pot, laying them in one layer over the vegetables.
Add the drained beans and cover all with the beef broth and tomatoes.
Bring to a boil and bake tightly covered about 2-1/2 hours – lamb and beans should be very tender.
Remove all solids to a large bowl and reduce sauce over medium high heat to concentrate flavors. Then return everything to the pot. Serve immediately or refrigerate after cooling to serve the next day.
Finished dish transferred to roasting pan for serving – the shanks are smothered under the blanket of beans and aromatic vegetables.