I was going to blog this as Braised Lamb Shanks, but I ended up using lamb shanks, lamb shoulder, and lamb steaks. As I have mentioned in the past, we have a local lamb dealer, and this year I bought half a lamb. Unfortunately, “Mary (literally the name of my lamb lady) had a Little Lamb.” So, my lamb shanks were tiny. I combined 2 lamb shanks, 1 lamb shoulder, and 4 lamb steaks in this recipe, but you could certainly make this with all shoulder or shank (I don’t think the lamb steaks are a typical supermarket cut) – the recipe is for 4-6 lbs. total of lamb (includes bones). All of these lamb cuts have a pretty high fat content(particularly the shoulder), so I recommend braising the lamb in advance and allowing it to cool in the refrigerator so that you can easily remove the fat from the top. The finished product received rave reviews (from my family – worst critics ever). The mashed potatoes were a result of “what’s in the fridge/pantry” – which always results in some of my best recipes – this one definitely qualifies. In fact, it is worthy of it’s own blog, though I will blog it here as well. Serves 4-6.
- 4-6 lbs. of Lamb (shoulder, shank, steak or any combination)
- 3/4 Cup of Flour (for dredging)
- 4 Medium Shallots – peeled and roughly chopped
- 4 Cloves Garlic – peeled and roughly chopped
- 2 TBS. Red Wine
- 4-6 Cups of Beef Broth – enough to reach top of meat, but not cover
- 28 Oz. Crushed Tomatoes (preferably San Marzanos)
- 3 Carrots- peeled and cut into 1″ Chunks*
- 1 Package of Baby Bella (or your favorite) Mushrooms – halved
- 1 Bay Leaf
- 1 Herb Bundle (Rosemary, thyme, oregano, parsley) or 1 TBS. Dried Italian Herbs, 1-2 tsp. Dried Rosemary, and 1/2 tsp. Dried Thyme
- Kosher Salt and Freshly Ground Pepper
* You can add additional root vegetables such as parsnips or potatoes – I served the stew over mashed potatoes, so I did not use them.
Pat the lamb dry and season generously on all sides with Kosher salt and fresh ground pepper. Dredge each piece of lamb in flour. Heat olive oil (just enough to cover the bottom of pot) in a large stockpot or Dutch oven. When oil is hot, add lamb pieces (you probably have to do two batches) and brown on all sides. Remove lamb and set aside. Add garlic and shallots to pot and allow to sweat and remove the browned bits from the pan (add more olive oil if necessary). Add wine and allow to further deglaze the pot; continue cooking until wine is reduced by 1/2. Return the lamb (with any accumulated juices)to the pot and add the tomatoes. The lamb should be covered with cooking liquid; if not, add more beef stock. Add the herbs, cover the pot, and reduce heat. Allow to simmer for about 3 hours – until meat is very tender. Skim fat from the top (if you have time, refrigerate the whole pot and the fat will congeal and be easier to remove) and remove the herb bundle (if you used one). Season to taste with Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper. Add any additional vegetables to the pot, return to heat and cook until added vegetables are tender. Serve with mashed potatoes, polenta, or wide egg noodles.
* If you like a thicker sauce, you can make a simple slurry of corn starch and water and add to the stew to thicken it.
Buttermilk, Leek, and Gorgonzola Mashed Potatoes
- 4 Large Russett Potatoes (or 6-8 smaller boiling potatoes such as Yukon gold)- peeled and cut into 1″ chunks
- 1 tsp. Olive Oil
- 1 Leek (white and light green parts only) – thoroughly cleaned and finely chopped
- 2/3-3/4 Cup of Buttermilk
- 4-5 TBS. Gorgonzola Cheese
- 1-2 TBS. Butter
- Salt and Freshly Ground Pepper
To a stockpot, add enough water to cover potatoes. Bring water to a boil and add potatoes. Cook until potatoes are fork tender (but not mushy), about 5-6 minutes depending on the type of potato and the size of your chunks. In the meantime, heat the olive oil in a small skillet and add chopped leeks. Cook until leeks are soft; remove from heat and set aside. Add buttermilk and butter to a small saucepan and heat to just below boiling; add gorgonzola and stir until dissolved and incorporated. Drain the potatoes and mash with a masher or potato ricer. Add leeks, hot buttermilk mixture, salt and pepper (to taste) and mix thoroughly (if you like really smooth potatoes, you can use a hand mixer and whip the potatoes). Taste for seasoning, and add more salt and pepper as necessary.