Braised Lamb Shanks with Taglietelle
Bob's Braised Lamb Shanks with Taglietelle Recipe
I first had braised lamb shanks – Lamb Kokkinisto – at one of the many Greek restaurants on Halsted Avenue in Chicago. Today’s recipe isn’t intended to be Greek, there’s no cinnamon or red wine in it, for example, but the process is similar. A tough piece of meat is braised in liquid over low heat for a long time until it becomes tender. However, unlike the oven-cooked braised short ribs of an earlier recipe, this time the meat will cook on the stove because the lamb shanks need to be turned often. It’s a little tricky to coordinate cooking the pasta while the lamb braises, but I couldn’t resist serving this wonderful sauce on tagliatelle. You can use other pasta or omit the pasta and serve a good Italian bread. Here’s what you need.
extra-virgin olive oil, for browning
2 meaty lamb shanks
3 T onions, chopped
2 garlic cloves, coarsely chopped
1 c dry white wine
1 c beef broth
2 c San Marzano tomatoes, chopped, plus 1 c of juice from the can
herbs, chopped – I used the leaves from a whole stalk each of fresh oregano and fresh thyme, 4-5 basil leaves and 2 heaping tablespoons of parsley. If you only have dried herbs, remember that they’re three times stronger than fresh herbs so use only a generous pinch of each one.
salt and pepper, to taste
6 oz tagliatelle (Molisano or DeCecco brand), optional
small amount of parsley, chopped, for garnishing
In a medium-sized and sturdy pot with a lid – I use a Creuset pot – heat the oil over medium-high heat. Meanwhile, salt and pepper the lamb shanks, brown them as well as possible in the oil and transfer to a plate. Turn the heat down to medium and sauté the onions until they wilt. Add the garlic and let it sizzle a bit. Add the wine, scraping the bottom of the pan to loosen any good bits, then add the broth, tomatoes and all of the herbs. Stir well. Taste for salt and pepper. Return the shanks to the pot and bring the ingredients to a boil. The shanks should be partially submerged in the braising liquids. Turn the heat down to low and cover, setting the lid slightly ajar. Cook for 1 ½ to 2 hours, rotating the meat often.
If you are cooking pasta, put a large pot of water on to boil after the lamb has cooked for about an hour. Then about 10 minutes before you think the lamb will be done, salt the water, and when it returns to a boil add the tagliatelle and stir often.
You’ll know the lamb is done when it’s fork tender. Remove the shanks to a plate and cover with aluminum foil. The shanks will have released lots of fat during braising, so spoon it off. Turn the heat to high and, stirring, reduce the sauce until it is thick and rich. Taste for salt and pepper, then return the lamb to the pot to reheat.
When the pasta is al dente, drain it and put it in a medium-size bowl. Add a little of the sauce and toss the pasta to coat it. Place each shank on a dinner plate along with some of the pasta, then spoon the sauce over the lamb and the tagliatelle. Sprinkle with a little parsley to finish. Now you’re ready to eat.