The Astronomer and I celebrated our seventh wedding anniversary this past April. In line with tradition, we relived our wedding banquet at Five Star Seafood Restaurant in San Gabriel and prepared something delicious inspired by antiquated anniversary gifts. Thus far in our marriage, The Astronomer has been gifted edible interpretations of Paper, Cotton, Leather, Fruit, Wood, and Sugar.
The recipe, though straightforward, contains two steps that require a bit of patience. The first is browning the shanks on all sides. The second is browning the sofrito (onion, garlic, celery, and carrot puree) just as thoroughly and carefully. After taking the time to build a properly aromatic base for the shanks, the recipe came together simply and rewardingly.
Let’s be real—wool never tasted so good.
- 3 carrots, peeled and cut into 1/2-inch dice
- Extra-virgin olive oil
- 3 celery ribs, cut into 1/2-inch dice
- 4 lamb shanks (each about 1 1/4 pounds; 1 shank is a portion)
- 4 cloves garlic
- Kosher salt
- 1 (12-ounce) can tomato paste
- 1 large Spanish onion or 2 small yellow onions, cut into 1-inch dice
- 2 cups hearty red wine
- 2 tablespoons finely chopped rosemary leaves
- 10 to 12 thyme branches tied together in a bundle
- 3 to 4 cups water
- 4 bay leaves
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.
Coat a large Dutch oven generously with olive oil and bring to high heat. Season the shanks generously with salt and pepper and add them to the pan.
Brown well on all sides. This is an incredibly important step; do not rush it. Remove the shanks from the pan to a sheet tray. Discard the excess fat from the pan.
Meanwhile, puree the onions, carrots, celery, and garlic in a food processor until it becomes a coarse paste. Remove and set aside.
Add a little more oil to coat the bottom of the pan and add the pureed veggies. Season with salt, to taste. Saute the veggies until they are very brown and aromatic, about 20 minutes. The brown veggies should form a sort of crust on the bottom of the pan, do not let this burn; it is where a lot of the flavor is! Don’t rush this step either, since this is where you will develop the brown color and flavor.
Add the tomato paste and brown for 5 minutes. Stir in the wine, chopped rosemary and thyme bundle. Stir frequently and cook until the wine has reduced by about half.
Add the shanks back to the pot and pour in 3 to 4 cups of water. The shanks should be submerged, if they are not, add more water. Add the bay leaves to the pan, cover and put in the preheated oven. The cooking time will be about 2 1/2 to 3 hours. Turn the shanks over about halfway through the cooking time. Check the shanks every 45 minutes or so. If the liquid has reduced too much add more water. Defat as you go.
Remove the lid during the last 30 minutes of cooking time for maximum browning. When the shanks are done the meat should be incredibly tender and flavorful.
Serves 4 hearty eaters.
Recipe by Anne Burrell.
Years of marriage should always be marked by good food: