When the Israelites were about to make their escape from Egypt, they were commanded to eat a last meal, standing, dressed, and ready to run. The shank bone on the Seder plate is a vestige of that meal of fire-roasted lamb, unleavened bread, and bitter herb. The commemorative Passover meal, as set forth in the Bible, on the other hand, is to be the exact opposite, leisurely with plenty of time for storytelling. A main course of slow-braised (make-ahead) lamb shanks reinforces the difference between this and all other nights. Lamb and artichokes are a natural pairing throughout the spring season.
- Cook Time
- Prep Time
- 3 tablespoons olive oil
- 6 meaty lamb shanks, about 1¼ 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
- ¼ 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 (page 66), or 1 cup (240 ml) canned beef broth diluted with 1 cup (240 ml) water
- Crisped Artichokes with Gremolata
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 1½ 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.
5. Serve the lamb shanks family style or plated, topped with the Crisped Artichokes and Gremolata.
Reprinted with permission from The Seasonal Jewish Kitchen © 2015 by Amelia Saltsman, Sterling Epicure, an imprint of Sterling Publishing Co., Inc.