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Basque Style Braised Lamb Shanks with Rosemary and Red Wine

By Heidi Allison

In this recipe, the humble lamb shank is taken to new heights, creating a dish that is savory, complex and “oh-so-comforting”—all at the same time.
Image of Tarragon
This recipe is homage to the resourceful Basque, who create gastronomical masterpieces from staples at hand. Although part of Spain, “Basque Country” is not of Spain, and has a different language (Euskera), culture and cuisine. Grabbing the attention of the global culinary stage during the last 5 years, this tiny area roughly the size of Delaware has more Michelin-starred restaurants than almost any other region of the world. And for good reason—from Bilbao to San Sebastian, Basque fare has remained true to its culinary roots, and managed to soar outside the proverbial box with a new cuisine, “molecular gastronomy”!

In this recipe, the humble lamb shank is taken to new heights, creating a dish that is savory, complex and “oh-so-comforting”—all at the same time. This recipe is “old school” cooking at its best: a dish that transforms that rather tough and inexpensive cut of meat, the shank, into a ‘falling-off–the-bone-tender” piece of meat. While this may seem like a rather easy “one-pot-dish”, it does have a few tricks. The secret of this genre of cooking is two-fold: Caramelizing each ingredient before adding it to the pot, and cooking the dish at a low/slow temperature. After several attempts, I found this rendition worked perfectly in a Crock Pot! I also “lightened-up” this traditional dish by removing the accumulated fat, which created more of a concentrated lamb and red wine broth than a sauce. Very clean! However, if you are craving a rich, silky and heavier sauce, serve it immediately when it is done cooking. A great dish for weekends and cold days alike!

Basque-Style Braised Lamb Shanks with Rosemary and Red Wine
Serves: 2

½ cup AP Flour
2 Lamb Shanks
Coarse Sea Salt and Freshly Ground Black Pepper, to taste
2 Tablespoons Olive Oil
2 large Shallots, peeled and minced (about ½ cup)
4 cloves Garlic, peeled, smashed and roughly chopped
3 medium Carrots, peeled
3 stalks Celery, cut into ½ inch slice
14 Mushrooms, cut into ½ inch slice
3 Roma (plum) Tomatoes, peeled and seeds removed; cut into ¼-inch slice
2 Tablespoons Fresh Rosemary, chopped
1 Tablespoon Fresh Thyme, chopped
2 cups Chicken Stock
6 ounces Red Wine
2 Tablespoons Fresh Parsley, chopped

Image of lamb shanks
Rinse and pat dry lamb shanks. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Dust all sides of shanks with flour and set aside. Place oil in a skillet on medium-high heat and add lamb. Sauté till a brown crust forms; then turn over and caramelize the other side. Remove from pan and set aside.
Image of sauteing mushrooms
Pour oil in a medium, nonstick skillet on medium-high heat till hot. Add mushrooms, sprinkle with salt and sauté till caramelized and a brown crust forms (about 10 minutes; then place in a 5-quart crock pot. Film a medium, nonstick skillet with olive oil, and place on medium-low heat. Add shallots and sauté until soft and lightly brown, stirring —about 10 minutes.
Image of sauteing celery and carrots
Add 2 teaspoon olive oil to a large, nonstick skillet and heat on medium-low heat till warm. Add remainder of ingredients and sprinkle with sea salt. Sweat veggies till soft and color has become more vibrant—about 15 minutes.
Image of lamb shanks with veggies and herbs in crockpot
Remove veggies from skillet and place in crockpot over mushrooms. Place lamb shanks over veggies and pour chicken stock and red wine over mixture. Add rosemary and thyme and cover. Place on low setting.
Image of cooked lamb
Cook in crockpot for 8-10 hours—or, until the meat is falling-off-the-bone tender. Turn off heat and cool; then place in the refrigerator overnight to allow the fat to rise to the surface and solidify.

Skim fat off the top with a spoon and reheat until warm. If you have too much liquid, reduce down (sauce only) over medium-high heat. Reheat the lamb separately on a very low heat: do not overcook or it will get tough.
Image of Basque-Style Braised Lamb Shanks with Rosemary and Red Wine
Place lamb shank over cooked pappardelle pasta and ladle over sauce. Top with chopped parsley and serve.
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