Last night, M and I sat around the table playing a game of designing our own restaurant menus. If we were to choose five appetizers, five entrees, and three desserts to be on the menu at a restaurant bearing our name, what would they be? This lamb shank was the first entree on both of our menus.
These lamb shanks feel completely indulgent. Yet they are entirely simple and only call for a few basic ingredients. In fact, I had things to do with my Sunday, like go for a long bike ride and paint some furniture, so the shanks slow braised in the crock pot all day long. No attention required. We came and went as we pleased, and later sat down to a dinner that felt like it had been served up at a great restaurant on a special occasion, and tasted just as good... Even before the first bite, the aroma is so incredibly deep and rich that it gives the sensation of eating the whole meal without having yet lifted a fork. The shank is so tender and moist that it falls right off the bone with a single touch and into the rich gravy of beef stock and onions.
The dish is pure bliss, but for now, the upscale restaurant serving lamb shank is my own Philadelphia kitchen and modest little table by the window. But M and I can sit there as long as we like, looking out onto the park, savoring mouthfuls of tender meat and imagining a menu full of things that are almost as delicious as what we're eating.
Slow Braised Lamb Shanks: serves 2
2 lamb shanks (approx. 1 lb each, from the butcher)
3 cloves garlic, sliced
1 T. olive oil
2 T. flour
1 Spanish onion, sliced
Herb de Provence (mixture of thyme, tarragon, rosemary, etc. Use whatever herbs you see fit)
salt & pepper
1 cup beef stock
1 T. red wine
Set oil over medium-high heat. Meanwhile, cut small slits into the shank and stuff with garlic slices. Dust each shank with flour. When oil is hot, lower each shank into the pot and allow to brown for five minutes on each side. Remove the shanks and put the onions to saute in the same pan. Rub the shanks with the herbs, salt, and pepper.
In a slow cooker (or large pot, if you are willing to stay home to man the stove), place the red wine. Then, put the onions in the slow cooker and deglaze the pan with the beef stock, and pour into the slow cooker or pot. Lower in the lamb shanks and cover. Allow to cook on low for 8-10 hours in the slow cooker, or for 2-3 hours in a pot over low heat. Serve covered with the onions and gravy, with potatoes and a vegetable on the side.