I am in my glory with the beginning of cooler weather. It’s time to say goodbye to all those warm weather recipes and welcome time in the kitchen preparing stews, braises, roasts and lots of baking. I must admit that I use my outdoor grill all year long (hey, a cold evening here is only in the 50s!), but when time allows, I much prefer preparing dishes that take minimal time to put together, but hours of pleasure as you savor the aromas coming from your kitchen as these dishes cook away.
My head is swimming with ideas for things I want to cook and today I was happy to find lamb shanks at my local supermarket. I didn’t have time to drive all over town looking for these and had a back up plan if they weren’t readily available, but there they were-New Zealand lamb shanks. I knew I wanted Mediterranean flavors with a hint of the Middle East thrown in, and so this is what I came up with.
Braised Mediterranean Lamb Shanks
1 tablespoon olive oil
4 lamb shanks
1 large onion, finely chopped
1 carrot, finely chopped
1 celery stalk, finely chopped
1 clove garlic, minced
1 cup green olives, pitted
1 cup white wine
2 cups chicken broth
6 canned plum tomatoes, chopped
1/4 teaspoon ground cumin
1/4 teaspoon ground coriander
1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper
1/8 teaspoon allspice
2 cardamom seeds, crushed
1 bay leaf
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
freshly ground pepper
2-14 ounce cans cannellini beans, drained
Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Heat olive oil in a large dutch oven over medium-high heat and add lamb shanks and brown-about 5 minutes per side. Remove from pan, lower the heat to medium and add onions, carrots, celery, olives and garlic and saute until onion is translucent, about 5 minutes. Increase the heat to high and add wine and simmer until wine is reduced in half.
Add broth, tomatoes , cumin, coriander, allspice, cardamom, bay leaf, salt and pepper. Stir to combine and add lamb back to pot. Bring to a boil, cover pot and place in oven. Cook for 2 hours. Add beans and cook for another 30 minutes. Remove from oven and serve with couscous or polenta. Serves: 4