Get Your Holiday Braise On

December 12, 2014 | Posted by The B-Team

Let’s talk about the braise, baby! This festive, wintry dish of braised lamb shanks with toasted orzo, roasted garlic and slow-roasted tomatoes is a beloved Bobby classic from his former New York restaurant, Bolo. I worked in the kitchen and absolutely loved this dish -- but you certainly don't need to be a restaurant cook to make it!

>> watch the video and get the recipe <<

I can't say enough about how much I love braising (it's great for tacos, too!). This preparation isn't complicated, but it does have a handful of steps. It's also completely delicious, an extremely impressive centerpiece on any table for any occasion, and just as tasty eaten days later, as leftovers. What more could you want?

Lamb shanks after a nice, long braise

Here are a few things to keep in mind while making this dish (watch the step-by-step process here):

  • Season and sear. Season the lamb fairly aggressively and have your pan screaming hot so you can get a really nice crust on all sides. This really helps develop the foundation of flavor. Who doesn’t want that?
  • Tight fitting lid or foil -- either works. Make sure that your pan is sealed tightly before it is transferred to the oven. Don’t remove the lid/foil until your lamb is done braising and is fork-tender.
  • Don’t rush those shanks! Unlike other cooking techniques, braising is all about low and slow cooking. In this case, those lamb shanks will benefit and become only more succulent if you let them go a little longer.
  • Get rid of that fat. Skimming excess fat from the braising liquid will improve the overall mouthfeel of your sauce. One way to do that is to run a ladle lightly upon the surface of the liquid, discarding all of that oily, slick stuff. Another way is to make the dish the day before you plan to serve it and simply remove the layer of congealed fat from the top before reheating.
  • Feeling scared? To simplify this dish, make the slow roasted tomatoes (they do take 8 hours) and roasted garlic a day or two before, or you can skip making the garnishes completely (although they are pretty scrumptious…they’re great on virtually anything and, if you puree them, they make an amazing sauce for pasta).

Whatever you decide, one thing is for sure: this time of year, you gotta get braising!