Winter has only just begun and we’ve been in the grip of a cold spell with a day of mild temperatures then snap…more cold. As much as I would like to eat lighter after a rich and festive December, I find myself yearning for comforting dishes and frankly…a kale salad doesn’t cut it in these sub-zero temperatures.
Enter lamb shanks – a tougher cut but one that becomes tender, fall off the bone and succulent after a long braise in the oven. I simmer lamb shanks with an aromatic tomato sauce with allspice, bay, wine and some thyme leaves for earthyness.
The base for this dish is trahana, an ancient Greek staple by boiling cracked wheat in either milk or yogurt then it gets dried in the hot sun then it’s crumbled and stored in pillow cases for future use. Ask for it at your nearest Greek deli/specialty store.
Braised Lamb Shanks With Trahana
4 lamb shanks
salt and pepper
3 bay leaves
7-8 whole allspice berries
1/2 cup dry red wine
approx. 2 cups lamb/veal stock
1 large onion, rough chop
5-6 cloves of garlic, smashed
1 carrot, rough chop
1 celery rough chop
2 heaping Tbsp. of tomato paste
10-12 sprigs of fresh thyme
2-3 cups of lamb/veal stock
salt and pepper to taste
For the Trahana
1 cup sour trahana
1 1/2 cups milk
1 1/2 cups water
pinch of salt
shaved Graviera cheese
- Season your lamb shanks with salt and pepper and place an oven-safe pot on the stovetop over medium-high heat (just big enough to contain all the lamb shanks. Drizzle some olive oil in the pot and brown all sides of the shanks. Pour in the wine and deglaze the bottom of the pot scraping up the bits. Add the tomato paste, bay leaves, allspice, garlic, onions, celery, carrots, thyme and enough stock to come halfway up the shanks.
- Season with salt and pepper and cover. Reduce heat to medium-low and braise for 90-120 minutes or until shanks are fork-tender. Take off the heat, reserve the shanks and place the braising liquid in a gravy separator to skim most of the fat.
- Remove the allspice, bay leaves and thyme and place in then purée with a food processor to thicken. Pour back on top of lamb shanks, keep warm.
- To cook the trahana, add the milk and water in a medium pot and bring up to boil. Add a pinch of salt and the trahana and stir. Reduce the heat to low, cover and simmer, stirring every couple of minutes. The trahana should be cooked until most of the liquid has been absorbed (about 8-10 minutes). Add more liquid if required, keep stirring/adding liquid until cooked. Adjust seasoning with salt and pepper
- Divide and plate the trahana in shallow bowls then top with a lamb shanks and finish off with shavings of Graviera cheese and pair with an Agyros Estate Atlantis Red.
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