Braised Lamb Shanks with Espagnole Sauce

24 Mar
Braised lamb Shank with Espagnole sauce

Braised lamb Shank with Espagnole sauce

Sunday, I made Lamb Shanks.

And you can too! This isn’t exactly a warm-weather meal, but since spring hasn’t warmed up the planet in the Northeastern U.S., you still have time to make this. And do yourself a favor–make these next year instead of tired, old corned beef and cabbage. Although easy, this treatment requires some advanced preparation ( for you slowpokes), and some time in the old oven.  I imagine this could work in a slow cooker, but I haven’t tried it; so do it at your own risk. I found the lamb shanks in the meat counter at Safeway;  the shanks are packaged two to a container.

For those of you not familiar with braising, it is a method used for cooking tougher cuts of meat. It involves browning the cut of meat first, then simmering in liquid in low heat. Some form of acidity is involved; either wine and/or tomatoes work together with the heat to break down connective tissue and tenderize the meat. Often, the cooking liquid is used in its natural state as au jus, or thickened to make a sauce. We will do the latter here.

Ingredients ( Serves two):

2 to 3 lbs lamb shanks, rinsed and patted dry

2 cups  peeled rough cut carrots

2 cups peeled rough cut onions

1 1/2 cups peeled rough cut celery

1 head fresh garlic, peeled

3 TBL tomato paste

1/4 cup olive oil

2  1/2 cups chicken stock or broth

2  1/2 cups beef stock or broth

2 cups red or white wine ( I used a leftover chardonnay)

2 tsp. coarse grind pepper

1 bay leaf

2 sprigs rosemary

1/2 pkg. fresh thyme

cotton twine ( optional)

Coarse grind black pepper

Sea Salt or Kosher Salt

3 TBL. unsalted butter

5 TBL. flour

Directions:

Below is an example of how the lamb shanks are packaged for retail sale:

frozen lamb shanks

frozen lamb shanks

Remove the lamb from its package, and wash them thoroughly. Pat dry, and with the tip of a sharp knife, score the shanks in a criss-cross pattern (taking care to cut through the tough, silvery membrane, but not too deep int the meat. Season liberally with salt and pepper.

Lamb shanks; washed, dried, scored and seasoned

Lamb shanks; washed, dried, scored and seasoned

Prepare all of the vegetables and herbs, and set aside. Measure out the wine, stock , the  two teaspoons of black pepper and tomato paste and reserve. Preheat the oven to 325 degrees, and gather all the vegetables, stock, wine, herbs and tomato paste.

Ingredients for braised lamb

Ingredients for braised lamb

If you have cotton twine, tie the thyme and rosemary together  in a bunch and set aside, if not; don’t sweat it.  Over medium heat, and in a 8 qt. heavy-bottomed ovenproof stock pot, heat up the olive oil.  Brown lamb shanks on all sides until evenly browned, about 10-15 minutes. Remove from heat and set aside. In the same pan, saute all of the vegetables, cooking until onions are translucent, about 10 minutes. If you find the pan is starting to brown too much, add the wine and stir, scraping the bit off the bottom. Add the tomato paste, stock and herbs, then add the shanks. The shanks should be completely submerged into the liquid.

Braise is ready for the oven

Braise is ready for the oven

( The red things in the broth are some leftover cherry tomatoes I had in the fridge, so I threw them in the braise)

Cover pot with oven proof lid and place into the oven. Cook for three hours.  Remove from oven and check for doneness by inserting the tip of the knife into a shank. If  the knife slides easily into the shank, it is done. If shank offers any resistance at all, place shanks back in oven and cook for an additional 30-45 minutes, and test again for doneness.

Remove shanks from oven and braising liquid with a slotted spoon, then strain the braising liquid of all vegetables using a mesh strainer, discarding the vegetables, but keeping the liquid.

Shanks and reserved stock

Shanks and reserved stock

Wash out stock pot and set aside.  Using a spoon, skim off any fat that accumulated on top of the stock.

skimming fat off the reserved stock

skimming fat off the reserved stock

Return stock pot to stove and over medium heat, add the butter and heat until melted. Add flour all at once and with a wire whisk, whisk vigorously.

Flour and butter

Flour and butter

Cook flour and butter over medium heat until flour turns tan, about 6-8 minutes, stirring constantly. Add stock and continue to whisk until all of the flour mixture is incorporated.

A sauce is born!

A sauce is born!

Turn heat down to low and cook sauce for 10-15 minutes. The sauce is ready when it coats the back of a spoon.

coating the back of a spoon

coating the back of a spoon

Restrain sauce with a mesh strainer, and hold for service.  Serve lamb shanks on a bed of mashed potatoes ( I have Yukon gold horseradish scented mash here).

Damn Skippy!!

Damn Skippy!!

Side note– I would appreciate some feedback on the photo tutorial.  If I need to be a bit more detailed, please let me know!

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3 Responses to “Braised Lamb Shanks with Espagnole Sauce”

  1. Joe Esposito April 5, 2009 at 11:41 pm #

    I made this today, and it was great! I should have pics on my blog before the end of the weekend.

    Thanks for sharing.

    • culinarychick April 6, 2009 at 1:07 pm #

      Thank you, Joe!
      This is one of my favorite dishes that I make for my friends for dinner. Keep reading!
      Culinary Chick

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