This year for the Passover Seder, I decided to challenge myself a little bit and cook my first ever Lamb Shank. My husband and I love eating lamb shanks once in a while, but I always thought that mastering the cooking of a large bone-in piece of meat as delicate as lamb was out of my league. The last time we had a home cooked lamb shank was a few years ago at my dad’s, and it was delicious. My step-mother inspired me lots, and thinking that she had been capable of doing it for us at home with a bit of technique and a lot of time ahead of her, I thought I’d pick the challenge for myself this year. I stopped doubting myself and went for it. This is who I am, the girl always on the look-out for new challenges in life, whether in the kitchen, in business, in learning new knowledge, in arts and crafts, solo trips, and so on. Challenges are the essence of me. This one was not particularly important per se, nevertheless I’m glad I did it because I nailed it, and as I proclaimed around the table, I finally de-dramatized the difficulty around it.
Before getting to the result of the lamb shanks that you can see on my pictures, I had to work on cleaning off the bones of each lamb shank. You most likely would have to do the same if you wanted to cook lamb shanks too. Indeed, if the butcher sells you lamb shanks in their natural form (that is, with the meat being still up the top of the bone), but you want to serve it to your guests in the most elegant manner, you’ll need to clear the meat off of the bone and clean the bone with the tip of a sharp knife. It was my first time and it took me about an hour for 7 lamb shanks, quite some thinking and sweating, and my full concentration. It’s not perfect but for a first time it’s pretty okay I think. Next, the secret for a super tender meat if you like it tender as in “detach almost by itself from the bone only with the help of a fork, and no knife needed whatsoever”, is the time that the lamb shanks spend in the stew, slow cooking in the oven at low temperature. They melt in the mouth and their meat juices stand for a fabulous sauce over the side veggies. And along the way, all the other used ingredients make for a wonderful dish packed with flavors. Happy Passover, and happy Easter!
- 1 lamb shank per person
- 4 tbsp of dark soy sauce
- 15 cl of dry white wine
- 6 shallots
- 2 yellow onions
- olive oil and butter
- black pepper and Fleur de Sel
- Side: sautéed potatoes and cherry tomatoes with thyme, rosemary, salt and pepper, and a bit of oregano to taste (I love oregano by the way)
- One lamb shank at a time, carefully work on cleaning off the bone.
- In a large flat dish, and with bare hands, coat the lamb shanks with a bit of dark soy sauce then with a bit of olive oil, and rub them with a mix of thyme and rosemary.
- Peel and half the shallots lengthwise, at least twice in order to get 4 pieces per shallot. Add them to the dish. Reserve in the fridge for about an hour.
- In the meantime, chop the onions.
- After an hour, heat olive oil and a bit of butter in a cast iron pot. Start braising the lamb shanks on high heat, starting with the bottom and then all the sides. Only braise 2 or 3 shanks at a time so that there’s the necessary space to roll them over and braise them on all sides without struggling too much. Reserve on the side while you get at the next batch of lamb shanks.
- I suggest discarding the fat after each round, as the fat of the lamb shanks combined to the olive oil and butter mix may lead to a blackened fat mix that can ruin the meat flavor and add a rancid oil flavor that you really don’t want here. Be really careful when discarding the hot oil, and opt for discarding it into a glass jar that you can seal and throw away when you’re done.
- In the meantime, preheat the oven at 160 degrees Celsius.
- When done braising the shanks, add some more olive oil and butter in the pot, turn the heat to medium, and gently fry the onions and shallots without letting them burn.
- When the onions and shallots have turned translucent and slightly golden, deglaze the pot with white wine. After a minute, add the rest of the dark soy sauce, put all the lamb shanks back in the pot, and pour some water up to one third of the cast iron pot in order to start the stew.
- Cover the cast iron pot with its lid and put it in the oven during 45 minutes at 160¤.
- After 45 minutes, turn the temperature down to 140¤, carefully turn the lamb shanks in the stew so that another side of each piece can dip into the stew, and water them all with the stew juices with a help of a large spoon or a kitchen pipette.
- After 45 minutes, repeat the same process and turn the temperature down to 120¤ for the remaining 2 hours, during which you can water the meat with the stew several times.
- My guests arrived later, so I changed my oven position onto “keep warm” at 80¤.
- Prepare the side dish during the time the lamb shanks are in the oven. Boil the potatoes, then cut them into pieces and roast them in a pan with oil and butter, and add tomatoes and herbs toward the end.
- Plate the bone-in lamb shank, add the side veggies, top with the juices from the stew, including the fondant onions and shallots., and finally sprinkle a bit of Fleur de Sel and freshly ground pepper to enhance all flavors. Ta-da!
Created and Written by Sophie Rebibo-Halimi. © 2019 All Rights Reserved.