Browning Lamb Neck Bones
When I was growing up, lamb was considered a special occasion meat. At 2, 3 or even 4 times the cost of beef or more, it wasn't economical. However, with beef prices raised to where they are, I am constantly suprised (happily, that is) by just how affordable lamb has become.
I love braised lamb dishes. I love lamb shanks and using meaty lamb neck bones in a variety of ways. These were once, and heck, still are, considered the more undesireable, and therefore less expensive cuts of the lamb. However, in my oppinion, there are no undesireable parts. Everything depends on how you prepare the meat. I love these cuts, because through the moist cooking process, the meat becomes just meltingly tender and oh, so flavorful. It's lovely.
So, the other day I was in the market, and I came upon lamb shanks AND meaty lamb neck bones and was stunned to see them for approximately $2.50 a pound. Done. Sold. Market happiness. I brought them home and made some delicious braised shanks. There are unlimited variations on how to make this dish. It's a fairly standard methodology, with variations on ingredients. However, I'll share how I made the ones in my, sadly, fuzzy photo. Bad camera.
Braised Lamb Shanks
3 or 4 lamb shanks - 1 per person is common, but that's alot of meat for me, personally
2 med, or 1 large onion
3-4 cloves garlic
1/2 c. red wine, or to taste
3-4 T. tomato paste diluted in 1/2 c. water. Feel free to use other types of tomato product, this is just what I had on hand. Canned or fresh tomatoes will produce alot of liquid which would be perfect.
1/2 t. allspice and 1/4 t. nutmeg or to taste
salt and pepper to taste
Throw in some fresh thyme if you have it, or italian parsley
Start browning the lamb shanks in a little butter or olive oil. Really let these things go to a nice, dark golden brown. This usually takes between 15-20 minutes.
Remove the shanks unless you have a lot of room in your pan, and start cooking the onions. When they have softened, add the carrots and then garlic. Deglaze the pan with the red wine, if the onions haven't already, add the tomato product, and the spice. Add the lamb back in, cover, and simmer for 1 to 1&1/2 hours, or until tender. If you want a thicker sauce, let it simmer for 1/2 hour with the lid off. Adjust your seasoning and there you go!
This is great with a starch of some kind, such as boiled potatoes, cooked rice, noodles, or even a nice baguette. You want something nice and neutral that will pair with the sauce. Enjoy! :)
Braised Lamb Shanks
Ooh ooh! Did you notice? I can now add captions to my pics! Hooray for me! I feel so accomplished.