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RIS Braised Lamb Shanks

Photo: Laura Padgett, courtesy of The American Lamb Board

From: Chef/owner Ris Lacoste, RIS, Washington, DC. Yield: 6 servings.

6 lamb shanks, about 1¼ lb. each
as needed, seasoning mix (2 parts salt, 1 part freshly ground black pepper and 1 part ground sumac)
as needed, olive oil
2 qt. coarsely chopped mirepoix (2 parts onion, 1 part celery, 1 part carrot)
3 sprigs fresh rosemary
1 bunch fresh thyme
2 bay leaves
6 garlic cloves
2 Tbsp. whole black peppercorns
½ cup tomato paste
1 liter red wine (preferably Shiraz or something fruit-forward)
1 gallon veal or lamb stock

3 cups raw chickpeas
1 Tbsp. baking soda
as needed, water
as needed, olive oil
2 cups finely diced onion
1 tsp. curry powder
1 tsp. turmeric
1 cheesecloth sachet of coriander seed, thyme and bay leaf

Pine Nut Mix:
1 cup pine nuts, toasted until golden
1 lemon, zest only
2 finely diced shallots
2 garlic cloves, roasted and minced
1 Tbsp. coarsely chopped fresh Italian parsley
1 Tbsp. coarsely chopped fresh mint
to taste, salt and fresh cracked black pepper
as needed, extra virgin olive oil

3 cups fresh spinach
12-18 pita crisps, toasted with olive oil and za'atar, preferably thin Lebanese pita wraps
12 oz. Greek yogurt
1 pomegranate
6 sliced radishes
as needed, mint sprigs, coarsely chopped and whole

Rub generous amounts of seasoning mix into shanks; refrigerate lamb overnight, uncovered.

When ready to braise, rinse shanks well and pat dry with paper towels. Heat braising pan; add a thin layer of oil. Sear shanks on all sides until well-browned. Remove shanks from pan. Add mirepoix, rosemary, thyme, bay leaves, garlic and peppercorns. Let sit to caramelize, stirring occasionally. Cook for 1 to 2 minutes; add tomato paste. Add wine and scrape pan bottom, deglazing seared juices. Reduce by one-half. Return shanks to pan; add enough stock to almost cover the shanks. Bring to boil on top of stove, then cook at 325°F, uncovered, for about 2 to 2¼ hours. Meat should be tender but not overcooked. While cooking, exposed portions of shank will get crusty; halfway through cooking, turn shanks so the caramelization can enhance the stock.

Let shanks rest in cooking liquid; adjust with salt if needed. Remove shanks; keep covered and warm. Strain stock and reduce to sauce consistency; adjust seasoning if needed.

For chickpeas: Soak chickpeas overnight, sprinkled with baking soda and covered with water. Drain and rinse when ready to cook. In heavy-bottomed pot, add oil. Add onions; cook over medium heat until soft but not browned. Add curry powder and turmeric; toast with onions until aromatics are released, about 1 minute. Add cheesecloth sachet; cover chickpeas with water. Bring to a boil; reduce heat and simmer until chickpeas are tender, about 45 minutes. Skim top film occasionally. Adjust seasoning if needed.

For pine nut mix: In a bowl, combine pine nuts, lemon zest, shallots, garlic, parsley, mint, salt and pepper. Add oil just to cover.
To serve: Saute spinach in small amount of olive oil with salt and pepper. Place chickpeas in bottom of individual bowls; top with some of the spinach, a few pita crisps and a dollop of yogurt. Place a lamb shank on top; sprinkle with pomegranate seeds, radishes, mint and pine nut mix. Garnish with mint sprig.

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