For those of you snow-bound, this is a rich and hearty dish, perfect for a cold winter day. For me it conjures up images of ski lodges and cabernet, it’s so warm and comforting. Flavorful lamb shanks are first browned and then braised in red wine, stock, and aromatics. Then they are combined with white beans and roasted butternut squash.
Lamb Shanks with Butternut Squash Recipe
- 6 Tbsp olive oil
- 4 Lamb shanks (1 lb each)
- Salt and freshly ground pepper
- Cloves separated from an entire head of garlic, unpeeled
- 6 celery ribs, coarsely chopped
- 4 carrots, coarsely chopped
- 1 large onion, coarsely chopped
- 1/2 cup tomato paste
- 3 cups dry red wine
- 6 cups chicken stock (use gluten-free stock for gluten-free version)
- Two 1x3-inch strips of orange zest
- 3 lbs butternut squash, peeled and cut into 1 inch cubes
- 4 Tbsp chopped parsley
- 4 cloves of garlic, peeled and minced
- 4 teaspoons finely grated lemon zest
- 1 1/3 cups cooked cannellini beans
1 Heat 4 Tbsp of olive oil in a large cast-iron enameled casserole. Season the lamb shanks with salt and pepper, add them to the casserole and brown well on all sides, working in batches if necessary, about 8 minutes. Transfer the shanks to a plate.
2 Preheat the oven to 350°F and arrange two racks in the oven, one to hold the casserole and one to hold a baking sheet with the squash. Add the unpeeled garlic cloves, celery, carrots and onion to the casserole. Cook over moderate heat, stirring occasionally, until golden brown, about 8 minutes. Add the tomato paste and cook, stirring, until glossy, about 2 minutes. Add the wine; boil over high heat until the liquid is very syrupy, about 15 minutes.
3 Return the shanks to the casserole and add the stock and orange zest. Bring to a simmer. Cover the casserole and braise the shanks in the oven for about 2 hours, or until the meat is very tender (when we cooked this dish it took 3 hours); turn the shanks from time to time as they cook.
4 Meanwhile, on a large rimmed baking sheet, toss the squash with the remaining 2 Tbsp of olive oil. Season with salt and pepper and bake in the oven (along with the lamb) for about an hour, or until tender.
5 In a small bowl, mix the minced garlic with the parsley and lemon zest (the "gremolata"). Set aside.
6 Remove the shanks from the oven and transfer to a plate. Pass the sauce through a coarse strainer, pressing hard on the vegetables. Discard the vegetable pulp. Skim the fat from the surface of the sauce.
7 Return the sauce to the casserole, season with salt and pepper and bring to a boil over moderately high heat. Add the lamb shanks and squash; simmer just until warmed through. Add the cannellini beans, cover and remove from heat. Let stand for a few minutes to allow for the flavors to blend.
8 Spoon the vegetables and sauce into large shallow bowls and set the lamb shanks on top. Garnish with the gremolata and serve.
Yield: Serves 4 (or up to 6 if you remove the bones from the shanks before serving).