I had this dish in Greece years ago, sat at this beautiful restaurant overlooking cliffs, the ocean, and the most magnificent sunset I’ve ever seen. They could have served dog food and I would’ve been impressed. The dinner was unbelievable, so I set out trying to duplicate it. It is the most time-consuming dish I’ve ever made, however, my guests always clamour for seconds.
Lamb Shanks Braised in Red Wine with Pearl Onions
4 lamb shanks
1 bunch of carrots (long thin ones make for a dramatic dish)
15 pearl onions (so much fun to peel)
1 medium sized onion, roughly chopped
6 garlic cloves, chopped
5 bay leaves
1.5 tablespoon rosemary
2 sprigs fresh thyme
1 bottle (750 mL) full-bodied red wine
1 tablespoon maple syrup
2 Cups beef stock
2 tbsp tomato paste
salt & pepper
Preheat oven to 325 degrees.
Heat a large saute pan with the olive oil on medium flame. Season the lamb shanks with salt & pepper, seer on all sides. Place in large covered, oven safe dish. Saute the white onion and garlic in the same pan, adding additional olive oil if necessary. Toss in 1/3 of the carrots (I prefer to leave them whole), onions, garlic, and the herbs, and stir to brown slightly. Add in the red wine, tomato paste and maple syrup, stirring until the mixture comes to a boil. Transfer the red wine broth to the casserole with the lamb shanks and add remaining carrots. Add enough beef broth so that shanks are well submerged. Cover, and place in the oven allowing to braise for 3 hours. (I threw in a bit of celery one time, for extra flavour, and then left it out the second time I made this dish: it’s definitely not necessary.)
Once the shanks are tender and the meat is loosening from the bone, decant the jus, leaving just enough to keep the shanks moist while covered in a 250 degree oven. Place the jus in a sauce pan and boil on medium flame for 45 minutes to an hour, or until the jus reduces by more than half and the consistency is slightly thickened. At this point add the pearl onions and allow to simmer for another 5 minutes. Pour over the shanks just before serving, offering any additional on the side.
Wine Pairing: I would suggest pairing this dish with a Barolo. A dish this special deserves an equally special wine (Barolos are known to be one of Italy’s finest wines). This fruity red pairs perfectly with this serious, game-y dish.