ma-ma-ma-MA! have you ever had lamb shank?
Open your eyes wide and gnaw on that bone and oh the way it feels on your un-gummed teeth makes you want to shout and breathe in quick through that little nose. There is fat and meat and what are those—tomatoes? beans?—rosemary and a little hint of something sweet. Anchovy and garlic, melting meat, food and quiet and a slow, soft sleep.
BRAISED LAMB SHANKS WITH ROSEMARY, PINTO BEANS, & TOMATOES
Can you tell I'm on a Darina Allen kick? I am determined to cook my way through this book. I did some liberal adapting with this recipe; usually, Darina's recipes are simple, but this one was way too fussy for my taste. I cut out lots of ingredients, but this dish still has plenty of flavor. The meat just about melts as it hits your teeth.
4 lamb shanks
a head of garlic, divided
8 sprigs rosemary, divided
4 anchovy fillets
salt and freshly cracked pepper to taste
2 tablespoons fat (I used beef fat; I imagine olive oil or butter would also work well)
2 carrots, coarsely chopped
2 celery ribs, coarsely chopped
2 medium onions, coarsely chopped
1 cup good red wine
3 cups lamb or chicken stock
2 bay leaves
1 quart crushed tomatoes
1 cup dried pinto beans, soaked overnight and then boiled til soft
Have you boiled the beans yet? Get to it if not. Then preheat the oven to 300 degrees F.
Make along, deep incision into each lamb shank along the joint. Peek the garlic, break off two cloves, and halve. Stuff each incision with a small sprig of rosemary, an anchovy fillet, and a half clove of garlic. Season the meat with salt and pepper.
Warm the fat in a large, heavy-bottomed pot over medium-high heat. Brown the lamb on all sides, then remove the shanks from the pot and set aside. Add the carrots, celery, onions, and remaining garlic to the pot and sauté until slightly browned, about 5-8 minutes. Use the red wine to deglaze the pan, then add 1 cup of the stock, the bay leaves, 2 sprigs of rosemary, and bring to a boil. Place the lamb shanks on top, cover the pot, and transfer to the oven to cook for about 2 hours.
At the 2 hour mark, pull the pot from the oven and add the crushed tomatoes, pinto beans, remaining 2 cups of stock, and remaining 2 sprigs of rosemary. Cover again and return to the oven for about another hour.
When the lamb is done it should be falling off the bone. Taste the broth and adjust the seasonings as needed. If there's too much liquid for your taste, you can always simmer the dish uncovered on the stove a bit longer. Serve hot with biscuits, cornbread, or nice homemade whole-wheat bread and plenty of butter.
Lamb from Border Bay Junction Farm in Barnstable, beef fat from homemade stock from bones from one of Joe Beaulieu's animals, frozen celery from Boxwood Gardens this summer, homemade chicken stock from one of Drew's birds, crushed tomatoes from our garden, pinto beans from Pioneer Valley Heritage Grain & Bean CSA.