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Braised Lamb Shanks with White Beans

Braised Lamb Shanks with White Beans
Lamb shanks, white beans, tomatoes and red wine are an ideal union for a hearty autumn dinner. You can substitute the same amount of veal shanks for the lamb shanks if you like.

Ingredients:

  • 1 1/2 cups dried small white, white kidney or cannellini beans
  • 2 Tbs. extra-virgin olive oil
  • 6 lamb shanks, each 1/2 to 3/4 lb.
  • 1 yellow onion, finely diced
  • 1 celery stalk, finely diced
  • 2 large carrots, peeled and finely diced
  • 6 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 1/2 cups dry red wine such as Côtes-du-Rhône, Cabernet Sauvignon or Chianti
  • 1 1/2 cups chicken broth
  • 1 1/2 cups peeled, seeded and chopped tomatoes (fresh or canned)
  • 3 Tbs. tomato paste
  • 1 tsp. chopped fresh thyme
  • 1 bay leaf
  • Salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste
  • 1 Tbs. shredded lemon zest
  • 2 Tbs. chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley

Directions:

Pick over the beans and discard any misshapen beans and stones. Rinse the beans, place in a bowl and add water to cover generously. Let stand for about 3 hours.

Drain the beans and place in a saucepan with water to cover by 2 inches. Place over medium-high heat and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to low and simmer, uncovered, until nearly tender, 45 to 60 minutes. Drain well.

Meanwhile, in a deep, heavy stock pot over medium heat, warm the olive oil. Add the lamb shanks and brown on all sides, 10 to 12 minutes. Transfer the shanks to a plate. Add the onion, celery and carrots to the pan and sauté over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until the onion is soft, about 10 minutes. Add the garlic and cook, stirring, for 1 minute. Add the wine, broth, tomatoes, tomato paste, thyme, bay leaf and lamb shanks. Bring to a boil over high heat. Reduce the heat to low, cover and simmer until the shanks can be easily pierced with a skewer, 1 1/2 to 2 hours.

Add the beans, stir well, cover and simmer gently until the lamb begins to fall from the bone and the beans are tender, about 30 minutes more. Season with salt and pepper. Remove the bay leaf and discard.

In a small bowl, stir together the lemon zest and parsley. Transfer the lamb shanks and beans to individual plates and garnish with the lemon zest-parsley mixture. Serve immediately.
Serves 6.
Adapted from Williams-Sonoma Seasonal Celebration Series, Autumn, by Joanne Weir (Time-Life Books, 1997).