|Easy Breezy Recipes
There is something especially satisfying about a savory hot plate of braised lamb or Osso Bucco on a cool night washed down with a fine red. Braising is the slow cooking in the oven or on top of the stove of rather tough cuts of meat like shanks or short ribs. Partially covered in an aromatic broth along with vegetables like potatoes, carrots, fennel and garlic, braising is classic French or Italian country fare.
Braising is the ultimate cool weather cooking style and really consists of 6 steps. Once you understand the simple techniques, you will come out with restaurant quality delicious dinners that will make your friends think you're a culinary genius! Step 1 is searing your meat, step 2 is saute your mirepoix (which is a combination of garlic, onion, herbs and aromatics) in oil. Step 3 is the deglazing of the pot with wine, 4 is braising the meat in the mixture. Actually its 4 steps, but 5 and 6 are reducing the sauce after the meat is 'pull from the bone' tender, and skimming the fat off the sauce, putting the meat back in, warming and serving. Sounds complicated but ITS NOT! Trust me.
Now braised lamb shanks with fennel is an incredibly delicious braise and the fennel adds that European country kitchen touch that is just so deeply satisfying. Very similar to Osso Bucco, the lamb simply adds a bit of, well, lamb taste. And I would say that even for those who claim they don't like lamb will love this because of the infusion of fennel, garlic and the secret ingredient, anchovies.
1/2 tsp. fennel seeds
2 lamb shanks
4 Tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
3 garlic cloves
2 anchovy fillets either packed in oil or salt packed
1 Tbsp. fresh thyme chopped
1 Tbsp. tomato paste
1 cup white wine
1 cup chicken stock or broth
1 bay leaves
2 fennel bulbs
6 small red potatoes cut in half
2 large carrots cut in 1" chunks
1/2 cup green olives
Preheat oven to 325. Toast fennel seeds, cool, grind or crush in mortar and pestle.
Salt and pepper shanks on both sides. Put oil large Dutch oven or cast iron pot. Brown on both sides. Set aside. Add more oil, reduce heat. Add fennel seeds, anchovy fillets, thyme, garlic and tomato paste, stir until fragrant.
Add wine or vermouth and deglaze pan, scraping up the brownings and stir. Reduce about 3 minutes. add chicken stock or broth and bay leaves. Place shanks back into pot. Cover the pot and braise for about 1 1/2 hours. Remove from oven and turn shanks over. Add fennel that has been cut into 1" wedges and potatoes and cut carrots. Add olives.
Arrange vegetables around the lamb shanks. Don't worry if some aren't submerged in the broth, they will cook nevertheless. Return to oven and braise for another 45 minutes. Remove vegetables. Check meat to make sure if it is fork tender. If not, place back into oven without veggies.
Now this dish can be made the day before. As a matter of fact, it could very well taste better the next day!
Serve with a French Bordereaux or a Napa red. Enjoy. Impress your friends or family! Mastering this simple dish will put you on your way to creating restaurant quality bistro dishes that you will swear tastes just as good as any fine eating establishment anywhere! Bon Appetito!
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I am a musician, producer, writer, photographer, chef. I have a website, John Rivera Urban Life where I have showcased my artistic passions. My site is full of useful information about cooking, urban living, music, art and an 'anything goes' section where I talk about anything from politics to philosophy. Guest bloggers are sometimes featured.