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Braised Lamb Shanks with Olives, Meyer Lemon and Fennel

Photo courtesy of the American Lamb Board

From: Chef/partner Mark Dommen, One Market Restaurant, San Francisco. Yield: 4 servings.

1 lamb hind shanks
3 medium carrots
2 medium onions
2 ribs celery
1 bulb fennel
¼ cup grape seed oil
4 Tbsp. fennel seed
4 Tbsp. coriander seed
1 bunch oregano
1 bunch thyme
1 bunch savory
½ cup tomato paste
1 bottle red wine
2 qt. brown chicken stock or light jus
1 large Meyer lemon, zest and juice to taste
½ cup oil-cured olives
to taste, sea salt
to taste, fresh ground black pepper

Season lamb shanks with salt and pepper. Place a large cast iron braising pan on high heat, add grape seed oil and then carefully add lamb shanks. Sear lamb shanks on all sides until nicely browned. While lamb is browning, peel onions and carrots and chop all the vegetables into ½”-sized pieces. When lamb is browned, remove it from the pan and add all the chopped vegetables. Saute until vegetables begin to soften and caramelize, about 10 minutes. As vegetables are browning, add fennel seeds and coriander seeds and continue to stir and combine. Spices will begin to toast in the oil from vegetables. After another 5 minutes, add tomato paste and cook another minute. Add red wine and stir to combine; reduce wine by half. At this time, lamb shanks can be added back to braising pan with all the vegetables. Add brown chicken stock until lamb is completely covered. This may not require the entire 2 quarts of stock. If you need more stock, add water. Finally, add herbs, bring to a simmer, cover and put into a 235°F oven for 2½ hours or until meat is tender and ready to fall off the bone.

Remove braising pan from oven and carefully remove lamb shanks onto a plate. Strain braising liquid through a fine mesh cone strainer and return liquid to stove. Turn on heat and reduce braising liquid by ¾  until it becomes a rich sauce. Add shanks back to reduced sauce and baste them with sauce to add a lacquered appearance. When shanks are glazed, finish sauce by adding Meyer lemon zest and oil-cured olives. Check the seasoning and season to taste with salt, pepper and lemon juice to balance richness of the lamb.

Note: The dish can be served with a variety of garnishes. At One Market Restaurant, it is garnished with braised fennel and potato puree.

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