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Master Technique – Braised Lamb Shanks

Braised dishes have a robust hearty flavor. By partially submerging meat in liquid, tougher cuts become tender as the moist heat penetrates the meat and gently soften it. Choose a heavy-gauge braising pan and a shape best fitting the the meat or poultry for even slow-cooking. Use a fork to test for doneness and a spoon to remove the sauce. Lamb shanks come from the foreleg of the animal, are one of the toughest cuts of lamb, and require braising. However, once braised the meat becomes “melt in your mouth” delicious.

 
LAMB SHANKS WITH GREMOLATA
 
Braised Lamb Shank With Gremolata And Sweet Bell Pepper Ragout
  INGREDIENTS
  6-8 trimmed lamb shanks (about 6 lbs )
  2 Tbsp. kosher salt plus more for seasoning
  Freshly ground black pepper
  2 tsp. minced fresh rosemary
  1 tsp. coarsely ground fennel seeds
  7 garlic cloves, 1 grated, 6 minced
  4 Tbsp. olive oil
  2 large onions, minced
  2 Tbsp. unbleached all-purpose flour
  2 tsp. paprika
  ½ tsp. crushed red pepper flakes
  2 cups drained canned diced tomatoes
  ½ cup dry white wine
4 cups (or more) low-sodium chicken broth
Gremolata
¾ cup flat-leaf parsley leaves
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 Tbsp. finely grated lemon zest
1 tsp. minced fresh rosemary

 

DIRECTIONS

Season the lamb shanks all over with 2 Tbsp. salt and generously with pepper. Mix rosemary, fennel seeds, and grated garlic in a small bowl; massage into lamb. Cover and let stand at room temperature for 1 hour.

Preheat oven to 350°. Heat 1 tbsp olive oil in a large wide heavy pot or dutch oven over medium-high heat. Sear the lamb shanks until just browned on all sides, remove and set aside. Add 3 tbsp olive oil to the pan and then onions, season with salt and pepper, and cook, stirring occasionally, until golden, 8-10 minutes. Add minced garlic, flour, paprika, and red pepper flakes. Stir vigorously to distribute flour. Cook, stirring often, until mixture becomes dry, about 1 minute. Add tomatoes and wine. Simmer briskly, stirring often, until juices thicken and tomatoes begin to break down, about 10 minutes.

Gradually stir in 4 cups broth. Simmer until flavors meld, 3-4 minutes. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Add lamb shanks back to pot in a single layer, pushing them down into sauce (add additional broth if needed so that shanks are about ¾ submerged).

Roast, uncovered, until tops of shanks have browned, about 30 minutes. Using tongs, turn shanks over and roast for 30 minutes longer.

Cover and cook, turning shanks occasionally, until meat is fork-tender and almost falling off the bone, 45 minutes to 1½ hours (time will depend on size of shanks). Remove from oven and skim off fat from surface of sauce. Let shanks rest in liquid for at least 30 minutes.

To make the gremolata – Using a sharp knife, mince parsley (make sure it’s dry). Mix parsley with remaining ingredients in a small bowl; toss to evenly incorporate.

Spoon meat with juices over. Sprinkle meat generously with gremolata.

Try Chef Jake’s Pasta Recipe for your Valentine

Chicken with Roasted Grape Tomatoes & Parmesan Cream Sauce 

Great for a special Valentine, this deliciously creamy sauce is perfect served over your favorite pasta. (Chef Jake’s tip – choose a pasta with spirals to hold more sauce!) Easy and fun to make together, this entree is Valentine’s Day dinner perfect with the addition of just a simple side salad.

INGREDIENTS

10 grape tomatoes
olive oil
1 large boneless skinless chicken breast
kosher salt
fresh ground black pepper
1 tablespoon fresh garlic (minced)
3 cups heavy cream
1 tablespoon tomato paste
1 teaspoon fresh thyme (minced)
1½ tablespoons fresh basil (minced)
1/3 cup fresh Parmesan cheese
DIRECTIONS
2-3 servings of your favorite pastaPreheat the oven to 425 degrees. Toss the tomatoes in a teaspoon of olive oil, lightly salt and place on a sheet pan. Roast tomatoes in the oven about 10 minutes or until skin begins to split and wrinkle.  Allow them to cool slightly and remove the skins.Thinly slice the chicken breast. Heat a skillet to med/high heat and coat with 1-2 tablespoons of olive oil; when oil is hot add the chicken and season with salt and pepper.  Cook, allowing the chicken slices to brown on the outside and cook thoroughly.  Remove and set aside – keeping it warm.Heat a sauce pan on medium heat and add 1 tablespoon olive oil. Add the minced garlic to the pan and cook until it softens and becomes aromatic. Add the skinless roasted tomatoes to the sauce pan; using a spoon or spatula smash the tomatoes then allow them to cook for a couple of minutes. Add the cream and increase the heat to med/med high to allow the cream to slowly boil while stirring frequently.  Cook until the cream is reduced by about 1/4. At this point it will appear to be a thin sauce, reduce the heat to a simmer.Prepare your pasta according to the package directions.

Stir in tomato paste, thyme and basil and simmer for 10-15 minutes. Add the parmesan cheese to finish and thicken the sauce. Season with kosher salt and fresh ground pepper to taste. Stir in the chicken and serve immediately over your favorite pasta.