It was at a country luncheon in the Aragon region that I first tasted these lamb shanks. They had a deep burnished flavor and came with whole garlic heads that had been cooked with the meat plus there was more garlic flavoring the delicious pan juices. The combination of roasting and braising is a winning one, eliminating the fuss of browning the meat and contributing rich roasty notes. The pan juices are thin but extremely flavorful, more like just than sauce. Large chunks of lamb shoulder, with some bone and trimmed of most fat, would also be good here.
- Yield: 4 Servings
- 4 large, meaty lamb shanks (about 1 ¼ pounds each)
- Coarse salt (kosher or sea) and freshly ground black pepper
- 1 large onion, cut in half, each half cut into 4 or 5 wedges
- 2 small, slender carrots, cut into chunks
- 5 small heads of garlic; 4 heads with the outer layer of skin removed, 1 head separated into cloves, each clove peeled and lightly smashed
- Olive oil
- 1 large fresh rosemary sprig
- ¾ cup dry white wine
- 1½ cups chicken stock or broth
- Rub the lamb generously with salt and pepper. Choose a heavy, deep, flameproof baking dish that can hold the lamb and vegetables in one snug layer and can be tightly covered. Scatter the onion, carrots, and smashed garlic cloves on the bottom of the dish, season them with salt and pepper, and toss with some olive oil. Brush the lamb shanks all over with olive oil and place them on top of the vegetables. Tuck the heads of garlic and the rosemary sprig between the lamb shanks and brush them with a little more olive oil.
- Bake the lamb shanks, uncovered, turning once, until the meat and the vegetables are nicely browned, about 45 minutes. Check after 25 minutes, and if the vegetables in the bottom of the baking dish are beginning to burn, add a little water and reduce the oven temperature to 425°F.
- After 45 minutes, add the wine to the baking dish and enough chicken stock to come about halfway up the meat (the garlic heads should stick out from the liquid). Cover the baking dish tightly (if it doesn’t have a close-fitting lid, seal it with a double layer of aluminum foil) and reduce the oven temperature to 325°F. Bake the lamb shanks until they are extremely tender and begin to pull away from the bone, about 2 hours. Turn the shanks once or twice as they bake and add more chicken stock, if necessary, to maintain the level of liquid.
- Transfer the lamb, vegetables, and garlic heads to a serving platter. Skim the fat off the pan juices, then transfer the juices to a sauce boat or a small pitcher. If you’d like the sauce to be thicker, place the baking dish over medium-high heat and cook until the sauce is reduced to the desired consistency.