Lamb shanks require long, slow cooking to become fork-tender while the braising liquid turns thick and rich. Gremolata topping brightens each mouthful. The garnish of chopped lemon, parsley, and garlic is usually served with veal shanks, but welcome with lamb.
2 tablespoons olive oil
4 lamb shanks (each 3/4- to1-pound)
Salt and pepper, to taste
1 medium onion, chopped
2 medium carrots, coarsely chopped
4 cloves garlic, finely chopped
3 sprigs fresh thyme
1 cup red wine
1 1/2 cups chicken stock
1 can (28 ounces) whole tomatoes, with the juices
2 tablespoons tomato paste
Grated rind of 1 lemon
1/3 cup chopped parsley
2 cans (15 ounces each) cannellini beans, drained
1. Set the oven at 350 degrees.
2. In a large flameproof casserole that will hold the shanks in one layer, heat the olive oil over medium-high heat. Sprinkle the shanks with salt and pepper. Cook them, turning several times, for 10 minutes or until browned on all sides. Transfer to a bowl.
3. Pour off all but 2 tablespoons of fat from the pan. Add the onion and carrots and cook over medium heat, stirring occasionally, for 8 minutes. Add 3 cloves of the garlic (save 1 for the gremolata) and thyme and cook 1 minute more.
4. Add the wine, turn up the heat, and let it bubble steadily for 5 minutes to reduce slightly. Stir in the stock, tomatoes and their juices, tomato paste, salt, and pepper. Return the shanks to the pan and bring to a boil. Cover the pan and transfer to the oven.
5. Cook for 2 1/4 hours, turning the shanks every 40 minutes, or until the meat is very tender when tested with a fork.
6. On a board, chop the remaining garlic clove, lemon, and parsley together until the mixture is blended.
7. Transfer the shanks to a bowl. With a large metal spoon, skim the fat from the cooking liquid. (If the dish has been made ahead and refrigerated, remove the congealed fat.) Add the beans to the sauce. Return the shanks to the pot and reheat until hot. Taste for seasoning and add more salt and pepper, if you like. Serve the shanks with the beans and sauce. Sprinkle with gremolata. Lisa Zwirn