Sunday, February 22, 2009

Braised Lamb and Lentils

One weekend we were searching for black lentils/black gram to make the Indian dish kali dal but made the error of bringing home French du Puy lentils instead (hey, they are both black... and in the absence of real black lentils at the store, we thought we could substitute with du Puy lentils).  In any case, we later found black lentils proper.  Now, what to do with the du Puy lentils besides making lots of lentil salads... This recipe appeared a couple of weeks later and we are glad to have tried it.  I probably will not make this dish again at the end of August in an apartment kitchen with no air conditioning but now is a perfect time -- snow is falling outside and an icy draft coming in through the windows...

6 lamb shanks
1 teaspoon each salt and black pepper
2 tablespoon olive oil
1 large onion, thinly sliced
2 1/4 cups beef stock
2 cups red wine
1/4 cup tomato paste
3 cloves garlic, minced
2 tablespoons minced fresh rosemary leaves
2 tablespoons packed brown sugar
2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
2 tablespoons red-wine vinegar
1 1/2 cups du Puy or regular green lentils, rinsed and drained
Rosemary sprigs for garnish

Preheat the oven to 350F.  Pat lamb shanks dry with paper towels, then sprinkle both sides with half of the salt and pepper.

Heat oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat.  Cook lamb shanks in batches for 3 to 5 minutes, turning often, until browned on all sides.  Remove shanks to a roasting pan and arranging in a single layer.

Reduce heat to medium and add onion to oil remaining in skillet.  Cook, stirring often, for 4 to 6 minutes, until onion is golden brown.  Stir in 2 cups stock, the wine, tomato paste, garlic rosemary, sugar, Worcestershire sauce, vinegar, and remaining salt and pepper.  Bring to a boil over high heat, stirring to scrape any brown bits from bottom of skillet.

Pour contents of skillet over lamb shanks.  Cover roasting pan tightly with foil.  Transfer roasting pan to oven and cook for 30 minutes.

Turn lamb shanks over.  Stir lentils into cooking juices in roasting pan.

Cover roasting pan with foil, and return to oven for 1 hour, until lamb shanks and lentils are very tender.  (Recipe can be refrigerated for up to 24 hours and reheated, covered, in a 350F oven for 45 to 55 minutes, stirring occasionally.)

If the lentil mixture seems to thick, ad a little of the remaining beef stock, heating it before adding to roasting pan.  Taste and add more salt and pepper if necessary.

Spoon lamb shanks, lentils and cooking juices into shallow serving dish, garnish with fresh rosemary and serve.

Serve with crusty baguette/bread.
Serves 6.

From The Globe and Mail Weekend Style Section Weekend Menu by Lucy Waverman August 23, 2008.

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