Braised Lamb Shanks with Crisped Artichokes and Gremolata
- 3 tablespoons olive oil
- 6 meaty lamb shanks, about 11⁄4 pounds (570 g) each
- Kosher or sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
- 1 onion, finely chopped
- 1 carrot, peeled and finely chopped
- 2 ribs celery, finely chopped
- 1⁄4 cup (15 g) chopped fresh Italian parsley
- Several thyme sprigs
- 2 bay leaves, preferably fresh
- 2 large cloves garlic, minced
- 1 cup (240 ml) dry white wine
- Grated zest and juice of 1 lemon
- 2 cups (480 ml) beef stock, or 1 cup (240 ml) canned beef broth diluted with 1 cup (240 ml) water
- Crisped Artichokes with Gremolata (recipe below)
- 3 lemons
- 1 cup (235 ml) water
- 3 pounds (1.4 kg) small artichokes, about 3 inches (7.5 cm) long (not including stalk)
- 2 cloves garlic
- Leaves of 1⁄2 bunch Italian parsley
- Olive oil
- Finishing salt, such as Maldon sea salt or fleur de sel
- Freshly ground black pepper
Directions for Braised Lambs
1) Heat a large, wide pot over medium-high heat and add 1 tablespoon of the oil. Season the lamb shanks with salt and add them to the pot, working in batches to avoid crowding. Brown well on all sides, 10 to 12 minutes. Transfer the shanks to a plate and drain the fat from the pan.
2) Reduce heat to medium-low and add the remaining 2 tablespoons oil along with the onion, carrot, celery, parsley, thyme, and bay leaves. Season vegetables with salt and pepper, stir to scrape up any brown bits, and cook, stirring occasionally, until the vegetables are tender, about 10 minutes. Add garlic and cook for 1 minute more. Pour in the wine, raise the heat to high, and bring to a boil. Cook until the wine has reduced by half, about 5 minutes. Stir in the lemon zest and juice.
3) Return the lamb to the pot, nestling the shanks together to fit; overlap the bony ends if necessary. At this point, the liquid in the pan should reach no more than halfway up the sides of the shanks. Add a little of the stock if needed. Cover and braise the meat, turning the shanks once after the first hour, until very tender, about 11⁄2 hours. Check the meat every 30 minutes during cooking to be sure there is sufficient liquid, adding stock as necessary to keep the shanks covered about halfway, and that the liquid is simmering rather than boiling vigorously.
4) Transfer the shanks to a plate. Remove and discard bay leaves and thyme sprigs and pour the sauce and vegetables into a liquid measure or a bowl. You should have about 2 cups (480 ml). Using a large spoon, skim off the fat from the surface of the sauce. Return the meat and sauce to the pot and heat, adding a little stock or water if you feel there isn’t enough sauce, and reheat to serving temperature. Or, refrigerate the sauce and shanks until closer to serving time; the fat will harden and be easy to lift off. Reheat on the stove or in a 350°F (180°C) oven.
Serve the lamb shanks family style or plated, topped with the artichokes and gremolata.
Directions to Make the Gremolata
1) Using a five-hole zester, remove the zest in long strands from 2 of the lemons. Chop 1 clove of the garlic, then mince it together with the parsley and zest. Set aside.
Directions for the Artichokes
1) Juice the 2 lemons into a bowl and add the water. Trim the artichokes (directions follow), then cut each artichoke half into quarters or thirds lengthwise. As you work, drop the pieces into the water.
2) Remove the artichokes from the lemon water and dry well. Line a sheet pan with paper towels and place near the stove. Heat a large skillet over medium-high heat and swirl in olive oil to a depth of about 1⁄8 inch (3 mm). When the oil starts to shimmer and a piece of artichoke dropped into it sizzles on contact, add the remaining garlic clove and one third to one half of the artichokes, being careful not to crowd the pan. Cook, turning the pieces as needed, until well browned on both sides and cooked through, 5 to 7 minutes, removing and discarding the garlic from the pan as soon as it is golden brown. Using a slotted spoon, transfer artichokes to the sheet pan and season liberally with salt and pepper. Repeat with remaining artichokes.
3) To serve, line a platter with parchment or brown paper, if you like, and arrange the artichokes on it. Scatter the gremolata over the top. Cut the remaining lemon into wedges and add them to the platter. The artichokes can be served warm or at room temperature.
SHOPPING TIP: Some artichoke varieties are tulip shaped with slightly flared outer leaves; others are globe shaped with leaves that curl inward. Either way, choose firm, closed artichokes that are heavy for their size. A few dusty frost marks are okay, but avoid artichokes with blackened leaves. Store artichokes loose in the coldest part of the refrigerator and, ideally, use them within a few days.
How to Trim Artichokes
Bend back the darker green or purple leaves to the point at which they snap off the base. Continue until you reach very pale leaves. Using a paring knife, shave away any dark remnants at the base. Cut off the top of the artichoke to remove the prickly tips, then cut in half lengthwise. Tiny artichokes, 2 to 3 inches (5 to 7.5 cm), should be choke-free (the inedible fuzzy core). Slightly larger artichokes may have a bit of fuzz at their core that you can scoop out with a paring knife or grapefruit spoon. Large artichokes have large chokes that must be cut away.
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