Lamb Shanks with White Beans
Serves 2-8 if you don’t concentrate on the meat only
Newtown really got me down. I needed some comfort; so I turned to this recipe. First of all, it took me awhile to make but yet didn’t take too much concentration so that I could think and meditate about what a tragedy and horror had just happened. Second of all, once made, it soothed me and helped me heal a bit. We need recipes like this every now and then—and sadly enough, more often lately than not. I hope that maybe you may take some solace in this recipe as well——
Ingredients for the White Beans:
- 1 Lb. dried white beans (I used the little ones but the larger variety are fine as well)
- 4 Cloves garlic, crushed or finely chopped
- 1 C. Cored and chopped tomatoes—(canned and drained are fine)
- 1 Bay leaf
Herbs to be used for both the beans and the shanks:
- 1 Tblsp. fresh sage leaves or 1 Tsp. dried sage and some left over for extra seasonings
- 1 Tsp. fresh thyme leaves or 1/2 Tsp. dried thyme
- A dab more thyme leaves for browning the veggies.
Ingredients for the Lamb Shanks:
- 4 Lamb shanks—3/4 to 1 Lb. each (mine in the picture was almost 2 lbs. WOW—what a lamb!)
- 1/3 – 1/2 C. olive oil
- Flour for dredging
- 1 Medium onion rough cut
- 3 Stalks of celery rough cut
- 2 peeled carrots rough cut
- 1 clove garlic rough cut
- S&P to taste
- 1 Bay leaf
- 3/4 C. red wine
- 3/4 C. beef stock
- Minced fresh parsley or sage leaves or thyme sprigs for garnish
Cooking the Beans
- Quick boil or soak the beans overnight (according to package directions).
- Place the beans in a deep pot and cover the beans with water.
- Turn the heat to high and bring to a boil; skim the foam if necessary.
- Turn the heat down so that the beans simmer and add the garlic, tomatoes, bay leaf, and 1/3 of the herbs mentioned in this recipe.
- Cook 1-1/2 to 2 hours —till they are tender.
Cooking the Shanks:
- Blender or Osterize chop the celery, carrots, garlic, onion into a small chop. I do leave aside a couple of carrots and celery large cut just for the look of the dish-but doesn’t feel obliged to do this.
- Mix the remainder of the seasonings in enough flour to dredge the shanks a bit and rub it on the shanks.
- In a large pot, heat the olive oil and brown the shanks on all sides. (About 8-10 minutes). If you have a lot of shanks, you may have to do this in more than one session. When browned, set aside on a separate plate.
- In the remaining oil (if you need more, pour a bit in), add and stir the veggies with a dab more of thyme over medium heat until they are glistening. (about 7 minutes)
- Put the shanks back in the pot on top of the veggies, add the wine and beef bouillon and a bay leaf; simmer covered on very low heat for 3 to 3 ½ hours or till when you insert a toothpick in the fleshy part of the shank, it’ll go in and come out easy (that almost sounds “risqué” doesn’t it. Oh dear.
- Keep an eye on the shanks just to make sure they don’t need more wine or bouillon.
The Finished Product:
- At this point, I like to have a lovely country styled platter to take my beans out with a slotted spoon and some or all of its liquid as well and top it with my lamb shanks, veggies, sauce and all. I then garnish it with the parsley, sage, or thyme.
- There are 2 more ways of finishing this dish so here it is:
- Don’t cook the beans till they are too soft because you are going to place them in an oven proof dish.
- Pour the shank’s sauce among the beans and some or most of the bean’s liquid (depending how much is left), a bit more dried or fresh sage; then nestle the shanks in. Put the dish uncovered in a 350 oven for about 15 minutes. Then garnish and serve.
- Cook the lamb as directed; then take it all off the bone and shred it.
- Stir it back in the beans and top it with bread crumbs.
- Broil it carefully in the oven till the crumbs are light brown.
- Voila Cassoulet?