Crockpot Lamb Shanks Braised in Red Wine & Herbs
A recipe for a cozy comfy gourmet dinner for two this weekend. Local lamb, simmered slowly in a rich aromatic red wine sauce, served with a creamy roasted garlic white bean purée. It's a simple hearty meal with sophisticated flavours that you can make ahead with only 30-40 minutes prep time.
When selecting your wine, look for a red wine with enough acidity, ripe fruit flavour, and spice to offset the richness of the lamb, try a Syrah or Syrah - Grenache blend. Louis Bernard is one of the most consistent and respected producers of Rhone wines, and is always a great value. Widely available for under $15 in Canada, a Louis Bernard Cotes du Rhone works perfectly for this recipe. If you are in the mood for a splurge, why not try a red from the Niagara region in Ontario, Kacaba Terrace Vineyard Syrah 2011, available at select LCBO stores for around $25.
- 2 lamb shanks
- a few pinches of salt & pepper
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 carrot, coarsely chopped
- 1 small onion, coarsely chopped
- 1 tablespoon tomato paste
- 1 bay leaf
- 6 cloves garlic
- 1 cup red wine
- 1 cup beef broth
- 1 tablespoon fresh thyme leaves
- 1 teaspoon fresh rosemary, finely chopped
Start by browning the lamb, a quick sear in a hot skillet will do wonders for the flavour of the final sauce. Any time you are browning meat it's a good idea to pat the surface dry with a paper towel before it hits the frying pan. You'll get a better sear that way. So, after you have dried the lamb, season it with salt and freshly ground pepper. Sear the lamb shanks in a heavy frying pan over medium high heat, turning frequently, for 6-8 minutes. Be sure and brown the lamb on all sides.
Add the chopped carrot & onion, tomato paste, garlic, and bay leaf to the bottom of the crockpot. Place the browned lamb shanks on top of the vegetables in the crock.
Use the red wine to deglaze the frying pan, be sure and scrape up all of the little browned bits left from frying the lamb. Add the deglazing wine and the beef stock to the crockpot and cover.
Cook the lamb on high for 30 minutes, then reduce heat to low and cook for another 6-8 hours.
After this long slow simmer, the lamb is so tender it will practically fall off the bone. To make the sauce, remove the shanks from the slow cooker and set aside on platter draped with tin foil to keep them warm.
Remove the bay leaf and discard. Using an immersion blender, purée the cooking liquid with the tender vegetables until smooth.
Transfer the purée to a large frying pan and add the chopped fresh herbs. Over high heat, being the mixture to a boil and let it reduce until thickened slightly. Taste the sauce to check the seasoning and add a pinch of salt or pepper, if needed, or a few additional herbs. Pour the reduction into a gravy boat or small pitcher.
Roasted Garlic White Bean Purée
I usually roast my garlic while I'm prepping the lamb and make the bean purée just before serving, but you could certainly prep the purée in advance, it will keep in the fridge for a couple of days.
- 2 whole bulbs garlic- roasted
- 5 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
- 540 ml (19 oz) can of white kidney or navy beans
- 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
- 1/2 teaspoon crushed dried chilies or chili flakes
To roast garlic:
This may seem like a lot of garlic, but roasting the bulbs transforms the sharp bite of raw garlic to a mellow nutty caramel flavour, two whole bulbs is just enough for this recipe, feel free to double the amount.
Preheat oven to 325F. Peel off the outermost papery layers of the garlic and slice off the top of each bulb. Place each bulb in the center of a small piece of tinfoil. Drizzle 1 tablespoon of olive oil over each clove, and wrap the bulbs loosely in the foil. Bake for 20-25 minutes, until outer cloves are golden. Squeeze the garlic from papery skin to remove the soft golden roasted cloves.
Drain and rinse your beans. Combine the beans with the remaining 3 tablespoons of olive oil, the cumin and crushed chilies in the bowl of your food processor fitted with the steel blade. Purée until smooth.
You may need to add a couple of tablespoons of liquid to achieve the desired consistency. We are looking for a creamy mashed potato-like texture. You can add water, cream, or a little bit of braising liquid from the crockpot to the beans, if needed, to thin the bean purée out a little.
Sometimes I'll serve the purée at room temperature with the lamb, but if I want to warm it up a little, a couple of minutes in the microwave does the trick.
To serve, spoon about a cup of the bean puree on to the center of the plate and rest the lamb shank on top, give a generous pour of reduced braising liquid and add a few green veggies. Place the gravy boat with any leftover sauce in the center table, and it will magically disappear.
This recipe can easily be doubled or tripled, as long as the lamb fits comfortably in your crockpot, you are good to go.
Check out www.lambrecipes.ca for more delicious recipes featuring lamb.
Disclaimer:This post was sponsored by the Ontario Sheep Marketing Agency, I've been compensated monetarily for this recipe.