- 4 lamb shanks, each about 1 pound
- 1 tablespoon kosher salt
- 2 1/4 teaspoons freshly ground black pepper, divided
- 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 cup chopped yellow onions
- 1/2 cup chopped carrots
- 1/2 cup chopped celery
- 1 tablespoon chopped garlic
- 2 cups dry red wine
- 6 cups rich chicken stock, veal or lamb stock
- 2 bay leaves
- 1 tablespoon chopped fresh rosemary leaves
- 1 1/2 cups dried fine bread crumbs
- 2 ounces Gorgonzola, crumbled
- 1 large egg
- 1 teaspoon freshly chopped thyme leaves
- 2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- Sweet Corn-Tomato Risotto, recipe follows
For the Lamb:
Season the shanks on all sides with the kosher salt and 2 teaspoons of the black pepper.
Put the flour on a large plate. Dredge the shanks in the flour and shake to remove any excess.
Heat the oil in a Dutch oven or large, heavy pot over high heat. Add the shanks and sear until well browned on all sides, about 8 minutes. Transfer the shanks to a platter. Add the onions, carrots, and celery, and cook, stirring, for 4 minutes. Add the garlic and cook, stirring, for 1 minute. Add the wine and cook, stirring, to deglaze the pan, stirring to loosen any brown bits on the bottom and sides of the pan. Cook until slightly reduced, about 5 minutes.
Return the shanks to the pot and add the stock, bay leaves, and rosemary, and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to medium-low, cover with the lid slightly ajar, and simmer until the shanks are tender, 1 hour and 45 minutes to 2 hours, skimming to remove any scum that rises to the surface.
Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.
Remove the pot from the heat and discard the bay leaves. Transfer the shanks to a large plate and let rest until cool enough to handle. Bring the braising liquid and vegetables to a boil. Reduce the heat to medium-low and simmer until reduced by 1/3 in volume, about 30 minutes, skimming occasionally to remove any scum that rises to the surface. Remove from the heat.
For the topping:
To make the crust, combine the bread crumbs, Gorgonzola cheese, egg, thyme, salt, and remaining 1/4 teaspoon of black pepper in the bowl of a food processor. Pulse several times until the mixture resembles wet sand. Transfer to a medium bowl.
Line a baking dish with foil.
When the shanks are cool, coat each evenly with 2 tablespoons of the Dijon mustard. Dredge 1 at a time in the Gorgonzola crust, pressing down to adhere about 1/3 cup of the crust to the meat. Reserve the remaining crust mixture. Place the shanks in the prepared baking dish and bake until golden brown, 20 to 25 minutes.
Add the remaining crust mixture to the reduced braising liquid and simmer over medium heat for 6 minutes. Remove from the heat. With a hand-held immersion blender or in batches in a food processor, puree the mixture on high speed. Cover to keep warm until ready to serve, and then transfer to a gravy boat or decorative bowl.
Remove the shanks from the oven. Place a portion of the risotto in the middle of each plate and top with a lamb shank. Drizzle with the sauce, and pass the remaining sauce at the table. Serve immediately.
* Chef's Note: To simplify making this dish, you can braise the shanks the day before you want to serve them and refrigerate them overnight. Remove them from the refrigerator, coat them with the mustard and Gorgonzola Crust, and then roast them until completely warmed through and the crust is golden, about 35 minutes. Or, you'll find that the shanks are quite delicious simply braised as they are here, without the crust.
Sweet Corn-Tomato Risotto:
- 5 cups chicken stock or canned, low-sodium chicken broth
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
- 3 tablespoons unsalted butter, divided
- 2 tablespoons minced shallots
- 1 teaspoon minced garlic
- 1 1/4 cups fresh corn kernels, from about 2 ears of corn
- 1 cup Arborio rice
- 1 cup peeled, seeded, and chopped tomatoes
- 1 tablespoon chopped fresh chives
- 1 tablespoon chopped fresh parsley leaves
- 1/2 cup grated Parmesan
Combine the stock, salt, and pepper in a small saucepan and bring to a low simmer over medium heat. Reduce the heat to low and keep warm.
Heat the olive oil in a medium pot over medium-high heat. Add 1 tablespoon butter and when foamy, add the shallots and garlic, and cook, stirring, for 2 minutes. Add the corn and rice and cook, stirring, for 3 minutes. Add 1/2 cup of the stock and cook, stirring constantly, until it has been absorbed. Add all of the remaining stock to the risotto, 1/2 cup at a time, and cook, stirring constantly, until the previous amount has been absorbed before adding more. (This should take 15 to 18 minutes.) Add the tomatoes, chives, and parsley and cook, stirring, for 1 minute.
Remove from the heat. Add the cheese and 2 tablespoons butter and stir well. Adjust seasoning, to taste, and serve immediately.
Yield: about 6 1/2 cups