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Recipe

Braised Lamb Shanks with Garlic & Vermouth (Souris aux Aulx)

Scott Phillips

Servings: six.

The inspiration for my recipe comes from Richard Olney’s Simple French Food, where the shanks and garlic are cooked with nothing more than a bit of water. I’ve updated Olney’s version by adding dry white vermouth and a few bay leaves to give the braising liquid an elusive, herbaceous flavor that permeates the meat and intensifies the dish.

Lamb throws off a considerable amount of fat as it cooks, so be sure to take the time to thoroughly skim the sauce before serving. Better yet, braise the shanks a day or two before you plan to serve them (see Make-Ahead Tips, below).

Ingredients

  • 6 lamb shanks (3/4 to 1 lb. each)
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 Tbs. extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 cup dry white vermouth, preferably Vya or Noilly Pratt
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 2 heads garlic, separated into cloves (unpeeled)
  • 2 tsp. fresh lemon juice; more as needed
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh herbs, preferably a mix of mint and parsley (chervil and chives are also good)

Nutritional Information

      Calories (kcal) : 360
      Fat Calories (kcal): 180
      Fat (g): 20
      Saturated Fat (g): 7
      Polyunsaturated Fat (g): 1.5
      Monounsaturated Fat (g): 10
      Cholesterol (mg): 120
      Sodium (mg): 360
      Carbohydrates (g): 1
      Fiber (g): 0
      Protein (g): 32

Preparation

  • Position a rack in the lower third of the oven and heat the oven to 325°F. If necessary, trim any excess fat from the lamb shanks, but don’t trim away the thin membrane that holds the meat to the bone. Season the shanks all over with salt and pepper.
  • Heat the oil over medium heat in a large Dutch oven or other heavy braising pot large enough to accommodate the lamb shanks in a snug single layer. When the oil is shimmering, add half the shanks and brown them on all sides, 12 to 15 min. total. Set the browned shanks on a platter. Repeat with the remaining shanks. When all the shanks are browned, pour off and discard the fat from the pan.
  • Set the pan over medium-high heat and add the vermouth. As it boils, stir with a wooden spoon to dissolve any drippings. Return the shanks to the pan, arranging them as best you can so they fit snugly. Tuck the bay leaves in between the shanks and scatter the garlic over them. Cover and braise in the oven, turning the shanks every 45 min., until fork-tender, 1-1/2 to 2 hours.
  • Transfer the shanks to a platter and cover with foil to keep warm. Tilt the braising pot to pool the juices at one end and skim off and discard any surface fat. Pour what remains in the pot into a medium-mesh sieve set over a bowl. Discard the bay leaves. With a rubber spatula, scrape over and press down on the garlic cloves so the pulp goes through but not the skins; be sure to scrape the pulp clinging to the bottom of the strainer into the sauce. Whisk in the lemon juice. Taste and add salt, pepper, and more lemon juice if needed. To serve, pour the sauce over the shanks and shower them with the chopped herbs and a little freshly ground pepper.

Make Ahead Tips

The dish can be made up to three days ahead. After braising, transfer the shanks to a baking dish. Strain and season the sauce as directed in the recipe. Pour a little strained sauce over the shanks to moisten them. Refrigerate the shanks and the sauce separately, both tightly covered. Before serving, reheat the chilled sauce, pour it over the shanks in the baking dish, cover the dish with foil, and warm in a 325ºF oven for about 30 min. Finish with the herbs and black pepper, and serve.

Fill out the meal with a potato gratin  and a refreshing heap of green beans.

Tip

After the long braise, the garlic cloves are tender enough to push through a sieve, creating a flavorful purée that thickens the pan sauce. Don’t forget to scrape the pulp clinging to the bottom of the strainer.

Reviews

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Reviews

  • chefannie | 01/28/2016

    Delicious and fool proof. I have made this recipe several times and it is always a hit.

  • Miss_B | 04/08/2014

    Absolutely delicious. Easy to make. I will definitely make it again. I made the side dishes suggested in the recipe and these were terrific with it too.

  • Lisaliv | 09/19/2012

    I was out of Vermouth so substituted with Sherry. The taste was great! Once I squeezed the garlic out of the skin I just poured the broth and topped with the garlic without pureeing any of it. The sauce thickens anyway. I wish I had added a little chicken broth or more liquid to sop up the meat. I cooked it for 1/2 hr at 325 and then turned it down to 275 for 2 more hrs. I think it would have been even more tender if left for longer at a lower temp. I'll think I'll try the crockpot next time. I'll definitely make this again!

  • Lisaliv | 09/19/2012

    I was out of Vermouth so substituted with Sherry. The taste was great! Once I squeezed the garlic out of the skin I just poured the broth and topped with the garlic without pureeing any of it. The sauce thickens anyway. I wish I had added a little chicken broth or more liquid to sop up the meat. I cooked it for 1/2 hr at 325 and then turned it down to 275 for 2 more hrs. I think it would have been even more tender if left for longer at a lower temp. I'll think I'll try the crockpot next time. I'll definitely make this again!

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