Braised meats are especially great to eat when it's chilly outside. Pairing these tender shanks with creamy polenta makes this dish even more comforting.
Technique tip: Season the shanks in advance. Also, it's best to let the braise sit overnight once cooked so that you can marry all the flavors together.
Swap option: You can use short rib, lamb leg or beef shank.
- 4 lamb hind shanks
- Salt and freshly ground black pepper
- 2 tablespoons grapeseed oil
- 3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
- 1/2 cup minced onion
- 1/4 cup chopped carrot
- 1/2 cup chopped celery
- 1/4 cup chopped fennel
- 1 head garlic, split
- 3 tablespoons tomato paste
- 1/4 cup flour
- 1 bottle white wine
- 3 cups orange juice
- 1/2 gallon chicken stock
- 1 orange, zest peeled
- 1 lemon, zest peeled
- 3 sprigs rosemary
- 3 sprigs thyme
- 2 bay leaves
- 1 teaspoon toasted and ground fennel seeds
Mixed cherry tomatoes
- 3 branches on-stem cherry tomatoes
- 1½ tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 3/4 cup milk
- 3/4 cup heavy cream
- 1/4 cup yellow polenta
- 1/2 cup goat cheese
- 1/2 cup grated Parmesan
- 1 stick (8 tablespoons) butter
- 1 tablespoons salt
- Freshly ground black pepper, to taste
- 1/2 cup water, as needed
For the lamb shanks:
1. Season the lamb shanks with salt and pepper.
2. Heat grapeseed oil in a cast iron skillet (or dutch oven) over medium-high heat until smoking, and sear meat on both sides.
3. Reserve and remove grapeseed oil.
4. Add extra virgin olive oil and heat. Add the onion, carrot, celery, and fennel and cook until golden brown. Add garlic and cook for 2 minutes. Add the tomato paste and mix with the sautéed veggies for 2 minutes. Add flour and incorporate into paste. Cook together 1 minute more.
5. Add the wine and simmer until reduced by 3/4. Add orange juice and reduce by 1/2.
6. Add the meat back to the cast iron skillet and cover with stock. Add the orange and lemon peels, rosemary, thyme, bay leaves and fennel seed, and bring to simmer.
7. Braise at light simmer 2½-3 hours until tender but still intact.
8. Remove meat, strain the sauce and reserve the vegetables. Using a food processor or mill, process the braised vegetables into a chunky pulp and reserve.
9. Return the braising liquid to the pot and reduce to desired consistency
10. Add the braised lamb back to the braising reduction. Cover and keep warm until ready to serve.
For the mixed cherry tomato:
1. Preheat oven to 225°F.
2. Remove tomatoes from the stems. Season tomatoes with extra virgin olive oil and salt. Place on a rimmed baking sheet.
3. Cook for 2 hours until the tomatoes are dry and not seeping out much liquid.
For the caprino polenta:
1. Combine milk and cream in a pot and bring to a simmer. Slowly whisk in the polenta.
2. Turn heat down to low and cook until the polenta is very smooth, about 45 minutes.
3. Once cooked, remove from heat and stir in the goat cheese and Parmesan. Then stir in the butter.
4. Season with salt and pepper to taste and adjust consistency with water if necessary.
5. Remove from heat and cover with plastic wrap until ready to serve.
Spoon the polenta onto serving plates, top each with a lamb shank and garnish with roasted cherry tomatoes.