Braised Lamb Shanks with Sweet Peppers
Braised lamb shanks are an impressive and generous meal. If you like, remove the meat from the bones to serve an extra person or two. The topping of quickly sautéed peppers and crumbled feta adds tangy, fresh flavor and color to each serving. Accompany with orzo tossed with olive oil, finely chopped tomato and minced fresh parsley.
- 4 to 6 lamb shanks, each about 1 lb., trimmed of fat
- Salt, to taste, plus 1/2 tsp.
- Freshly ground pepper, to taste
- 3 Tbs. olive oil
- 1 yellow onion, finely chopped
- 1 large carrot, peeled and finely chopped
- 1 celery stalk, finely chopped
- 3 bay leaves
- 1 tsp. dried oregano
- 1/2 tsp. ground cumin
- 1/2 cup beef or chicken stock
- 1/4 cup dry white wine
- 1 small yellow bell pepper, seeded and thinly sliced
- 1 small red bell pepper, seeded and thinly sliced
- 2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
- 3 Tbs. coarsely chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
- 1 cup crumbled feta cheese
Season the lamb shanks generously all over with salt and pepper. In a large, heavy fry pan over medium-high heat, warm 2 Tbs. of the olive oil. When the oil is hot, working in batches if necessary to avoid crowding, add the shanks and sear, turning as needed, until golden brown on all sides, about 8 minutes total. Transfer to a plate.
Pour off most of the fat from the pan and return it to medium-high heat. Add the onion, carrot, celery, bay leaves, oregano and cumin and sauté until the vegetables are golden, 6 to 8 minutes. Pour in the stock and wine and stir to scrape up the browned bits from the pan bottom. Transfer the contents of the pan to a slow cooker and stir in the 1/2 tsp. salt and several grinds of pepper. Place the lamb shanks on top. Cover and cook on low for 7 hours according to the manufacturer’s instructions, basting once or twice with the braising liquid if possible. The meat should be very tender.
Carefully transfer the shanks to a platter and cover loosely with aluminum foil. Strain the braising liquid into a small saucepan and let stand for a few minutes, then skim off the fat with a large spoon. Bring to a boil over high heat and boil until reduced by about half, about 5 minutes.
In a fry pan over medium-high heat, warm the remaining 1 Tbs. olive oil. Add the bell peppers and sauté until just beginning to soften, about 10 minutes. Add the garlic and cook for 1 minute more. Remove from the heat, stir in the parsley, and season with salt and pepper.
Divide the lamb shanks among warm individual plates and drizzle with the reduced braising liquid. Top each shank with a spoonful of the sautéed peppers. Sprinkle the feta over the top and serve immediately. Serves 4 to 6.
Adapted from Williams-Sonoma The New Slow Cooker, by Brigit Binns (Weldon Owen, 2010).