Braised Lamb Shanks

I have another recipe on here for braised lamb arm chops. (It’s the one I cooked for that dinner party of girlfriends in conjunction with a spiritual workshop.) This recipe I found on the internet is similar, but it’s got a LOT more garlic, and also adds a bit of lemon. It only calls for 1 cup total of liquid; but what I’ve discovered is that if the meat isn’t mostly submerged in the liquid, it kinda defeats the purpose of the braising. I think part of the trick to getting the balance right is for your meat to be not just big chops, but also thick ones?

The other trick is to make sure it cooks in a pot that doesn’t allow much evaporation. I was recently cooking just two chops so I did them in my heavy saucepan (with the full 1-1/4c of liquid), including “baking” them on the stovetop over low heat. The meat came out fine, but 100% of the liquid evaporated and a lot of that garlicky sauce-y goodness just got stuck to the bottom of the pan.

I’m thinking that a crockpot might be better in terms of not allowing any evaporation. The first step in that case would be to season and brown the meat first in a separate pan, then transfer it to the crockpot. Deglaze that first pan with your liquid to scrape up all the yummy bits, and also to cook off the alcohol in the wine, as that won’t happen in the crockpot. If you’re using fresh herbs instead of dried, add them in the final hour of cooking; some cooks have warned they lose their flavor over long cooking.

4 shanks (arm or shoulder chops work fine)
4 heads – yes, HEADS – of garlic
3/4 c white wine
1/2 c chicken broth
1 t dried thyme
1 T chopped fresh rosemary, plus more for garnish
zest of a lemon
2 T unsalted butter

As far as peeling all the garlic – the guy who offers this recipe says that if you separate all the cloves and put them into a metal bowl, cover it with another metal bowl, and shake – all the cloves will be peeled. ??

Start by prepping your garlic and measuring our your liquid, (because they need to get added to the hot pan right away, as soon as the meat is done browning).

Season the shanks and brown in a couple tablespoons of oil or butter.

Remove the meat to a plate and add the garlic to the pan. Brown for just about a minute, then add the liquid, scraping up all the bits. Bring it to a boil and add your herbs and lemon zest. Reduce to a simmer and salt to taste.

Return the meat to the pan and put into a 300° oven for about 2 hours.

He recommends turning the heat up to 400° at that point and putting the meat by itself back in, glazing the meat with the sauce every 5 minutes for 15 minutes. Interesting technique, maybe I’ll try it.

Garnish the dish with sprigs of rosemary and the reserved garlic cloves; serve with mashed potatoes or polenta.

To make the sauce:

Remove 12 of the nicest garlic cloves to use as garnish. Puree the rest of the sauce in a blender and swirl in the butter.

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