Well the warm days of summer are now just a fond memory, but that doesn’t mean that the food scene is slowing down at all. The shorter days are bringing in the winter harvest with fresh salads giving way to slow foods: roasting and braising, drying and canning – these are happy days for those of us that love time in the kitchen! To start off the Slow Food season I am sharing one of my favourite, go-to crowd pleasers. This is the easiest recipe ever – just pop the ingredients in the oven mid-afternoon and come supper time you have a sumptuous feast. Serve alongside our Chèvre Mashed Potatoes or some soft parmesan polenta for the ultimate comfort food!
- 1/2 cup (125 mL) extra virgin olive oil
- 8, 12 oz domestic hind bone in lamb shanks
- 3 tsp (15 mL) kosher salt
- 2 1/2 tsp (12.5 mL) black pepper
- 2 anchovy filet, minced
- 4 tbsp (60 mL) fresh ginger, peeled and chopped
- 16 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
- 2 fennel bulbs, trimmed, cored and thinly sliced
- 2 Spanish onions, thinly sliced
- 1 tsp (5 mL) fennel seeds
- 1 tsp (5 mL) red pepper flakes, crushed
- 4 tsp (20 mL) ground cumin
- 1 1/3 cup (312 mL) dry red wine
- 2 cups (500 mL) balsamic vinegar, reduced to one cup
- 6 tomatoes
- 6 fresh rosemary sprigs
- 16 cups (4 L) water, dark stock, or chicken broth
Place a large cast-iron skillet or other heavy ovenproof skillet or a Dutch oven over medium high heat and when hot, add 4 tablespoons of the oil. Sprinkle the lamb shanks with 2 teaspoons of the salt and 2 teaspoons of pepper and add them to the pan. Cook until they are browned on both sides, about 4 to 5 minutes on each side. Set the shanks aside and discard the oil.
Wipe the skillet clean and reheat it. Add the remaining 4 tablespoons of oil. Add the anchovy filets, ginger and garlic, stirring well after each addition and cook until the garlic is golden, about 3 minutes. Add the fennel, onion, fennel seeds, pepper flakes, cumin and the remaining teaspoon of salt and 1/2 teaspoon of pepper, the wine and vinegar, stirring well after each addition. Cook until the sauce has reduced somewhat, about 5 minutes.
Add the tomatoes and return the shanks to the pan. Add the rosemary and water, bring to a simmer and transfer the skillet to the oven. Bake uncovered until the meat is falling off the bone, about 3 hours. Transfer to 8 plates or a large serving platter. Remove shanks and reduce liquids, add roux to thicken if desired.