A few weeks ago, the husband and I went on a real live actual date to Square One Brewery, a local microbrewery and distillery. There was the beer cheese soup, which we both enjoyed, practically licking the bowls clean. I went for a big plate of black beans and grilled polenta topped with tomatoes and avocado and sour cream. While mine was delicious, Brian's meal was the winner: braised lamb shanks. I vowed that I would learn to make them myself.Ingredients3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, divided1 small yellow onion, diced2 celery stalks, diced3 garlic cloves, minced2 lamb shanks, 3/4 to 1 pound eachMoroccan spice dry rub (see below)1/2 cup dark beer (we used Flying Dog's Road Dog Porter)2 to 3 cups chicken stockbay leafFor the Moroccan Spice Dry Rub1 teaspoon cinnamon1/2 teaspoon cumin1/2 teaspoon coriander1/8 to 1/4 teaspoon white pepperSalt and pepperHeat one tablespoon of olive oil in a skillet over medium-high heat. Saute onion and celery 3 to 4 minutes or until softened. Add garlic and saute for another minute until fragrant (but don't burn it!) and then transfer to a medium slow cooker.Rub the lamb shanks with the dry rub, making sure it's well coated. Heat the last two tablespoons of oil and sear the meat on all sides until it just starts to brown. Transfer to slow cooker.Remove skillet from heat, deglaze the pan with the half cup of beer (drink the rest of the bottle even if it's eight in the morning) and add that to the pot as well. Add the bay leaf and chicken stock until the shanks are just covered in liquid, somewhere between two and three cups. If you have any leftover spice rub, you can add that now. Cook on low for eight hours.
Now, there is the Very Important Question of what to serve with it. One of the advantages of putting this in the slow cooker so early in the morning is that once the lamb is fall off the bone cooked, I can turn it to “Keep Warm” and then focus on the sides.
Brown Rice With Garbanzos and Raisins
- 1/2 cup brown rice
- 1 1/2 cups liquids: 1/2 cup of lamb cooking liquid and 1 cup water
- 1 tablespoon butter
- 1 cup garbanzo beans
- 1 snack size box raisins
- Salt and pepper
Combine rice, liquids and butter in a small saucepan and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to low, cover and cook for 30 to 45 minutes (or until done). When there are about five minutes left add the garbanzos and raisins. Turn off heat, let sit for 5 minutes. Fluff rice with a fork and then season with salt and pepper
- If you’re pressed for time, you don’t need to saute the vegetables and sear the lamb, just add everything to the crock pot. I think it adds a depth of flavor if you do those things first.
- Feel free to cut the vegetables into large chunks instead of dicing them, especially if you aren’t planning on sauteing them.
- Strain the liquids and freeze the remaining broth to use later.