I love it when the stars align for a really great dish. Good friends/regular dining companions recently enjoyed a wonderful week in Belfast, Ireland, and were sweet enough to bring back for me The New Irish Table, by Margaret M. Johnson. I was stoked to get in there and start cooking – ever since we watched the Ireland episode of No Reservations, my eyes have been opened to the fact that Irish cuisine has much more to offer than potatoes.
I agonized over which of the 70 amazing-looking recipes I should start with until my brother’s Christmas gift arrived – after reading my short ribs post, he very awesomely got me a gorgeous Dutch oven. Killing two birds with one stone, I went with this tasty and simple recipe for braised lamb shanks.
- 3 tbsp olive oil
- 4 lamb shanks (about ¾ lb each)
- 1 large carrot, diced
- 1 onion, diced
- 1 stalk celery, diced
- 1/2 cup dry white wine
- 14 oz can diced tomatoes
- 5 sprigs thyme
- 1 bay leaf
- 6 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 cup water
- Salt and pepper
First, I heated the olive oil over medium heat in a pot big enough to hold two of the shanks at a time, browned the meat all over, then transferred the meat to the Dutch oven.
To the same pot, I added the carrot, onion and celery and cooked about 5 minutes until soft. I added the wine, scraping the bottom of the pot to get all the yummy brown bits off the bottom and cooked about 5 more minutes, until the wine had reduced by half, then I dumped it all into the Dutch oven over the meat.
Next, into the Dutch oven went the tomatoes (juices and all), thyme, bay leaf, garlic (yes, 6 cloves is the tripled amount, you can obviously use less), and water. I seasoned everything with some salt and pepper, brought it to a slow simmer over medium low heat, then reduced the heat to low and covered it, setting the timer for about 2 ½ hours.
- 1 turnip, peeled and cut into 1 inch pieces
- 1 carrot, peeled and cut into 1 inch pieces
- 1 parsnip, peeled and cut into 1 inch pieces
- 1 onion, quartered
- 2 tbsp olive oil
- Salt and pepper
About half an hour before the lamb was due out of the oven, I prepared the veggies. I preheated the oven to 400, then tossed the turnip, carrot, onion and parsnip pieces in olive oil, making sure everything was well-coated. I spread the veggies out in roasting pan in a single layer and seasoned generously with salt and pepper, then roasted them for about 25 minutes, until soft and just starting to brown.
Once the lamb was finished (so tender it literally fell off the bone), I removed the meat from the Dutch oven to a platter with a slotted spoon and covered it.
I simmered the sauce for just another 5 minutes, just to thicken it up, and then it was on to plating. I served the lamb over a nice pillow of mashed potatoes, topped it with roasted vegetables and spooned the sauce over top - really hearty, flavorful and comforting. So, thanks to two wonderful gifts, I managed to start off cooking in the new year in a great way!