A good friend called this morning to touch base, talk about the inauguration, and ask if I put the recipe for the lamb stew I made two weeks ago on my "website." To which of course, I replied, "Doh, totally forgot." So I'm glad she called, among other reasons, because it reminded me I had to do this and gave me a topic for today.
We found it hearty and delicious, the perfect meal to have on a cold winter night. It freezes well too, so we'll be able to have it again soon.
Hearty Lamb Shank Stew
6-7 lamb shanks (ask butcher to cut each shank in three pieces - I bought mine at Whole Foods and this wasn't an issue)
1 medium onion chopped or sliced
3/4 cup sweet red vermouth
3/4 cup dry red wine
3 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
2 tablespoons light brown sugar
1 28 oz. can tomato puree
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon ground cloves (I left out, didn't have any)
2 bay leaves
2 cinnamon sticks
½ cup dried currants (I used golden raisins)
2 strips (3”x1” each) orange peel
kosher salt, freshly ground pepper
3 sweet onions for caramelizing
8 oz. Feta
3/4 cup lightly toasted pine nuts
2 cups julienned carrots (I used shredded carrots from the supermarket)
2 cups black pitted olives
1. Heat olive oil in a large stew pot (used my new Le Crueset dutch oven) over a med-high heat. Salt and pepper the lamb shanks. Sear the lamb in batches until browned on all sides. Remove from the pot with a slotted spoon and set aside.
2. Add 1 med. Chopped onion to the pot and cook about 5 min. until softened. Add the wine, vermouth, vinegar, brown sugar and tomato puree. Stir together. Season with cumin, cloves, bay leaves and cinnamon sticks.
3. Return the meat along with the currants/raisins and orange peel to the pot. Add salt and pepper to taste. Bring stew to a simmer and cover over low heat for 2 hours.
4. Meanwhile, in another pan, saute 3 sliced sweet onions in butter, covered, over very low heat until caramelized. This took about 20 minutes over low-medium low flame. (For those not familiar with how to caramelize onions, you can check this recipe on Cooking Light).
5. After stew has cooked 2 hours add caramelized onions, carrots and olives and cook 1.5 hours more: therefore the total cooking time should be about 3.5 hours or until the meat just falls off the bone.
6. At this point the recipe does not ask you to remove the bones but I took the time to remove bone and excess cartilage from the stew.
7. Serve lamb shank stew with bowls of feta and pine nuts to be added by each individual
8. Some people like to add white beans (dried Northern Great beans) to stew. If you do, soak the beans over night, drain and cook in boiling water for 45 minutes. Add to stew during the last 1.5 hours of cooking. You can also used canned beans, but I did neither.
*Note: This is a great make ahead dish. Barb served it with couscous and grilled asparagus topped with slivered garlic sauteed in a little olive oil and shaved Parmigiana cheese. She also heard it is good accompanied by mashed root vegetables, potatoes, rutabagas and parsnips. I served it with polenta.
Serves approximately 6 people (Barb doubled the recipe and it made way too much for a party of 8).
If you like lamb shanks, here's another great recipe, Braised Lamb Shanks.