Out of the blue, I got an email from Scott Cohen, executive chef of Pavil, a brasserie I like a lot in San Antonio. This is what he said: “I was thinking about Christmas and decided to make this lamb shank recipe at home so my wife can relax this year. It’s really awesome.” He included a recipe for the lamb, and given the season, I thought it sounded too good not to post. (It’s a little complicated, but I’m sure it’s fun and worth the time if you’re an avid cook.) It’s on the menu on Thursdays at Pavil, by the way. Braised Lamb Shanks For the lamb shanks: 4 lamb shanks 6 tinned anchovies, cut into halves 12 small rosemary sprigs 12 slivers garlic salt and freshly ground black pepper 2 ounces duck fat, butter, or drippings 2 carrots, roughly chopped 2 sticks celery, roughly chopped 1 leek, roughly chopped 2 onions, roughly chopped 1 head garlic, broken up into cloves 1 sprig thyme 1 sprig rosemary 1 bay leaf ½ bottle red wine 1 pint chicken or lamb stock or water For the sauce 2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil 4oz streaky bacon lardons, blanched 1 carrot, finely diced 1 stick celery, finely diced 1 onion, finely diced 6 cloves garlic, peeled 2 sprigs thyme 2 sprigs rosemary, chopped 4 tomatoes, seeded and diced 2 thirteen-oz tins flageolet beans, drained and rinsed For the gremolata 3 cloves garlic, chopped 5 tbsp chopped fresh parsley zest of 2 lemons For garnish 2 tbsp grated Parmesan Method 1. Preheat the oven to 275 degrees . 2. For the lamb shanks, first remove the majority of fat from the shanks. Make three deep incisions in each shank and insert in each half an anchovy wrapped around a sprig of rosemary and a slice of garlic. Season the meat with salt and freshly ground black pepper; you will not need too much salt as the anchovies are very salty. 3. Heat a little duck fat, butter or dripping in a casserole, add the shanks and brown all over. Remove and set aside. 4. To the casserole, add the carrots, celery, leek, onions, garlic cloves and herbs and cook over a high heat until the vegetables are browned. 5. Deglaze the casserole by adding the red wine, scraping the residue on the bottom of the pan and stirring well. 6. Add the stock or water to the casserole, place the shanks on top of the vegetables, cover and cook in the oven for two and a half hours. 7. When the lamb has finished cooking, remove the four shanks to a dish and keep warm. Pass the vegetables and cooking liquor through a mouli, or blend in a food processor, and set aside. 8. For the sauce, heat the oil in a large pan over medium to high heat. Add the bacon and fry until browned. Reduce the heat and add the carrot, celery, onion and garlic. 9. Cook for eight minutes until the vegetables have softened; then add the thyme, rosemary, tomatoes and flageolet beans. Heat through. 10. Pass the blended lamb cooking liquor and vegetables through a strainer or fine sieve onto the bean mixture, stir together and pour over the lamb shanks. 11. Mix the gremolata ingredients together to make the gremolata. 12. Serve the lamb garnished with the gremolata and parmesan.
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