Oven Roasted Lamb Shanks with Roasted Tomatoes and Toasted Orzo

February 12, 2015
Dinner, Lamb, Winter, Fall, Holiday, Comfort Food

Read Christine's blog post for more tips on making this dish, and watch the video for a step-by-step guide

Serves 4

Roasted Garlic Bulbs
4 heads garlic, split in half crosswise
2 tablespoons olive oil
Salt and freshly ground black pepper

Preheat oven to 350°. Place garlic heads in a small roasting dish, drizzle each half with olive oil, and season with salt and pepper. Cover with foil and roast for 45 minutes to 1 hour, until soft and golden. Remove and let cool. Set aside for garnish.

Slow Roasted Tomatoes
4 plum tomatoes, sliced in half vertically
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 tablespoon fresh thyme leaves
Salt and pepper

Toss the tomatoes in olive oil, season with thyme, salt and pepper, and roast in a 200° oven for 8 hours. Let cool and store in the refrigerator, in a container with a tight-fitting lid, until ready to use. If stored properly, the tomatoes will last 5 days.

Lamb Shanks
3 tablespoons olive oil
Salt and freshly ground pepper
4 lamb shanks, bone in
2 stalks celery, coarsely chopped
2 carrots, coarsely chopped
1 large onion, coarsely chopped
1 cup port
1 cup red wine
3 cups chicken stock
4 sprigs fresh thyme
Roasted Garlic, recipe above
Slow Roasted Tomatoes, recipe above
Toasted Orzo, recipe below
8 sprigs fresh flat leaf parsley, plus more chopped parsley for garnish

1. Preheat the oven to 350º. Heat the oil in a large Dutch oven until smoking. Season the shanks fairly aggressively on both sides with salt and pepper. Sear the shanks until golden brown on all sides and remove to a plate. Remove all but 2 tablespoons of the fat in the pan, add the celery, carrots and onions, and cook until caramelized.

2. Add the port and red wine to the pan and deglaze, scraping the bottom of the pan for any brown bits. Let the liquid boil for few minutes, until it reduces by about a third. Add the chicken stock and thyme sprigs and let the mixture return to a boil. Place the shanks back into the pan, bring the liquid to a boil, then tightly cover the pan and transfer it to the oven. Braise for 1½ - 2 hours, or until the meat is tender.

3. Remove the shanks to a plate and loosely tent with foil to keep warm. Strain the cooking liquid into a medium saucepan (discard any solids). Bring the liquid to a boil and reduce to a simmer. Let it reduce by half, approximately 12 to 15 minutes, occasionally skimming off excess fat from the surface. Remove 1 cup of the liquid to use for the orzo, and continue reducing the remaining liquid until thickened to the consistency of a glaze.

4. Brush a generous amount of the glaze on to the lamb and arrange the shanks on large serving platter. Garnish with the roasted garlic bulbs, parsley sprigs and slow roasted tomatoes. Serve the toasted orzo alongside in a large bowl, ladling some of the reserved broth over top and garnishing it with chopped parsley. Serve any leftover glaze or broth on the side.

Toasted Orzo
1 pound orzo
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 small onion, finely chopped
2 tablespoons cold unsalted butter
¼ cup finely chopped parsley
1 cup reduced braising liquid (from above)

1. Heat a 3- or 4-quart sauce pan over medium heat. Add half of the orzo to the dry pan and let it toast, stirring occasionally, until golden brown.

2. Add the oil and butter and, once melted, add the onion and cook until soft. Add the remaining orzo and sauté for 1 minute, stirring to coat all the pasta with the oil/onion mixture.

3. Bring 8 cups of water or chicken stock to a boil (or a combination of chicken stock and water). Add the water/stock to the orzo as if you were making risotto, one cup at a time, stirring constantly until the liquid is absorbed and the pasta is al dente (you may not need to use all of the water). Season with salt and pepper, stir in the braising liquid and chopped parsley, and finish with another sprinkle of chopped parsley.