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Braised Lamb Shanks {Local Thanksgiving}

I am not one to have turkey on my Thanksgiving table. Not that I have anything against turkeys - in fact, I drive past a rafter of turkeys every day on my way to work - but it's not my favorite fowl. So, in recent years I've served quail (in both 2010 and 2011), pheasant, duck, and chicken. This year, my parents requested lamb shanks, "just like the one in the picture from that dinner." Here's the picture.

My friends and I had attended Edible Monterey Bay's pop-up dinner at La Creme in Pacific Grove in September. You can check out my Edible Monterey Bay piece about the event. The braised lamb was only one of the magnificent courses cooked up by Chef Jon Moser. But it made an impression.

While my lamb is not locally-raised, I did pester the butcher at Whole Foods for the scoop. The lamb shanks I picked up are from New Zealand, completely grass-fed and grown without antibiotics, growth hormones, and are pasture-raised. Sounds good! Besides, it was locally-inspired by the La Creme dinner.


Ingredients

  • 6 T olive oil
  • 1 fennel bulb, trimmed and thinly sliced
  • 2 T minced garlic
  • 2 T chopped fresh rosemary
  • 8 3/4- to 1-pound lamb shanks
  • white whole wheat flour for dredging
  • 2 1/2 C dry red wine
  • 2 1/2 C organic chicken broth
  • 1 T unsulphered molasses
  • 1 1/2 T fresh tomato sauce
  • 1 T fennel seeds
  • 5 bay leaves
  • 2 C steamed, peeled whole chestnuts
  • 2 C dried apricots
  • 2 stems of fresh sage
  • 2 stems of fresh rosemary

Procedure
Heat 3 T olive oil in heavy large Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Add sliced fennel and garlic and sauté until brown.

Coat lamb shanks with flour. Heat remaining 3 T olive oil in heavy large skillet over high heat. Working in batches, add lamb shanks to skillet and cook until brown on both sides, about 10 minutes per batch.


Using tongs, transfer lamb shanks to plate. Add 1 cup dry red wine to same skillet and bring to boil, scraping up any browned bits. Pour into Dutch oven with fennel mixture. Add remaining 1 1/2 cups red wine, chicken broth, tomato sauce, molasses, and bay leaves to dutch oven. Bring to boil. Add lamb shanks, turning to coat with liquid.



Simmer for one hour. Add in the rosemary, apricots, and chestnuts.


Bring mixture to boil. Reduce heat, cover and simmer until lamb is almost tender, turning lamb shanks occasionally, approximately another hour. Uncover Dutch oven and boil until liquid is reduced to sauce consistency, stirring and turning lamb shanks occasionally, about 30 minutes. They should be falling-off-the-bone tender! Season with salt and pepper.To serve, spoon the sauce over the shanks.

And on another note, we actually did have turkey on our table this year. Riley and Nonna cooked it.

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