Braised Lamb Shanks with Sweet Potato Polenta

lamb shanksBraised Lamb Shanks

Ingredients
Extra-virgin olive oil
4 lamb shanks (each about 1 1/4 pounds; 1 shank is a portion)
Kosher salt
1 large Spanish onion or 2 small yellow onions, cut into 1-inch dice
3 carrots, peeled and cut into 1/2-inch dice
3 celery ribs, cut into 1/2-inch dice
4 cloves garlic
1 (12-ounce) can tomato paste
2 cups hearty red wine (I used a nice white wine)
2 tablespoons finely chopped rosemary leaves
10 to 12 thyme branches tied together in a bundle
3 to 4 cups water
4 bay leaves

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.

Coat a large Dutch oven generously with olive oil and bring to a high heat. Season the shanks generously with salt and add them to the pan. Brown well on all sides. This is an incredibly important step; do not rush it.

Meanwhile, puree the onions, carrots, celery and garlic in a food processor until it becomes a coarse paste. Remove and set aside.

Remove the shanks from the pan to a sheet tray. Discard the excess fat from the pan. Add a little more oil to coat the bottom of the pan and add the pureed veggies. Season with salt, to taste. Saute the veggies until they are very brown and aromatic, about 20 minutes. The brown veggies should form a sort of crust on the bottom of the pan.

Add the tomato paste and brown for 5 minutes. Stir in the wine, chopped rosemary and thyme bundle. Stir frequently and cook until the wine has reduced by about half.

Add the shanks back to the pot and pour in 3 to 4 cups of water. The shanks should be submersed, if they are not, add more water. Add the bay leaves to the pan, cover and put in the preheated oven. The cooking time will be about 2 1/2 to 3 hours. Turn the shanks over about halfway through the cooking time. Check the shanks every 45 minutes or so. If the liquid has reduced too much add more water. Defat as you go.

Remove the lid during the last 30 minutes of cooking time for maximum browning. When the shanks are done the meat should be incredibly tender and flavorful. Transfer to serving bowls filled with polenta.

Sweet Potato Polenta

Ingredients
1 Cup Quick Or Instant Polenta
2 Cups Mashed, Baked Sweet Potatoes
1 Tablespoon Finely Chopped Fresh Sage
Salt & Pepper
3 Cups Vegetable or Chicken Broth
2 Tablespoons Butter

In a pot, mix the polenta with the broth, mashed sweet potatoes, sage, salt and pepper and cook until tender following manufacturer’s directions.
Once cooked, stir the butter into the polenta.

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