Last week I woke up each morning to temperatures averaging around negative 10 degrees. What was the result of this frigid spell? Double down vests? Unstartable tractors? Yes and yes, but more importantly, lamb shanks. Slowly braised lamb shanks are the perfect cure to the cold weather blues. This is Kathleen’s recipe and it was wonderful. The dish is simple to pull together and while it takes time before the dish is finished, making it the day prior improves the flavors of the dish and allows the lamb to become even more tender.

  • 2 Meyer lemons
  • 4 medium lamb shanks, trimmed
  • salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 4 tablespoons grapeseed oil or extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2 medium yellow onions, peeled and cut into medium wedges
  • 4 cloves garlic, peeled and sliced
  • 6 carrots, peeled and cut into thin sticks
  • 6 celery stalks, trimmed and cut into thin sticks
  • 4 cups hot chicken stock
  • 2 cups red wine
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 bunch fresh mint (I didn’t have mint, and experimented with 2 sage leaves, which worked out)
  • 1/2 bunch parsley, finely chopped

Preheat oven to 350. Zest the lemons, chop the zest finely and set aside in a covered container. Cut lemons in half and, working over a large dish, rub them into shanks, squeezing out all the juice. Discard the rinds. Season the shanks generously with salt and pepper and set aside.

Melt the butter and 2 tablespoons oil in a deep, heavy roasting pan over medium heat. Add onions and garlic and sauté, stirring often, until onions are soft (about 5 minutes). Add carrots and celery and cook until vegetables are hot (about 3 minutes). Transfer vegetables with a slotted spoon to a bowl and set aside.

Increase the heat to medium-high, add the remaining 2 tablespoons oil to the pan and brown the shanks on all sides. Pour stock and wine over shanks, season to taste with salt and pepper and add the vegetables. Add the bay leaf and all but 3 branches of the mint. Cover and bake until the shanks are tender and the meat is falling from the bone, usually about 3 hours.

Remove the bay leaf and skim any fat from the liquid. (If you prepare the dish ahead of time, allow it to cool completely and then skim the fat.) I wanted more of a glaze on the shanks, so after letting everything rest overnight, I removed the shanks from the braising liquid. I brushed the meat with the liquid and heated the shanks in the oven for an additional ten minutes.

Serve in large bowls with mashed potatoes or polenta; garnish with the chopped mint, parsley and lemon zest.

Serves 4.

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