Italy is a country we always associate with wonderful home cooking and fun times: comfort dishes, pasta made from scratch, long simmered sauces, loving Grandmas, loud conversations (also the case back in Brazil, by the way) and happy glasses of wine. If you are fond of authentic Italian food, “From the Bartolini Kitchens” is a spot you must incorporate into your virtual world. I first got to John’s site indirectly, by reading his comments on blogs we both visited. Each and every comment he wrote made me think “this ChicagoJohn is such a nice guy!” From comments I jumped to his blog, and became an instant subscriber and avid reader. So, if his site is new to you, stop by and while you are having fun there, make sure to check the story of his family, that could very well be made into a movie. Fascinating to read, just as his recipes and recollections of his cooking with “Zia”.
I have quite a few of his recipes on my list to try, but this one made the jump from “to try soon” to “tried and true” in a couple of weeks. Record time, considering that Sally usually performs her culinary magic in anti-warp speed. 😉
BRAISED LAMB SHANKS
(slightly adapted from this Bartolini family recipe)
3 lamb shanks
2 tbsp olive oil
4 medium carrots, roughly chopped
leaves and stalks from the top of a celery heart, about 1 cup
1 shallot, sliced
2 cloves of garlic, smashed
4 sprigs of rosemary
1 bay leaf
1 cup red wine
2 tbsp tomato paste
1/2 cup sherry vinegar
veal stock (or chicken stock, or water)
salt & pepper to taste
lemon zest for garnish, optional
Heat oven to 250 F.
In a large fry pan, heat the olive oil over med-high heat. Add 2 smashed garlic cloves and sauté until golden. Remove the garlic and discard.
Season the lamb shanks with salt and pepper and place them into the pan, browning them on all sides. This could take anywhere from 10 to 15 minutes. Remove and reserve the lamb shanks.
Place all the vegetables into the pan, season with salt and pepper, and sauté until some color is achieved. Add the tomato paste and cook until fragrant and its color deepens, 2 to 3 minutes. Add the red wine, deglaze the pan well, then add lamb shanks back to the pan. Pour veal stock so that the level of the liquid comes two-thirds up the meat. Add the rosemary and bay leaf, season the liquid with more salt and pepper.
Cover the pan and place in the oven for 3 hours or more, moving the pieces around every 45 minutes or so. If the liquid dries too much, add water or stock. When the meat is super tender, remove it and reduce the sauce if necessary by boiling it down on top of the stove.
Serve, garnished with lemon zest and sauce on the side.
to print the recipe, click here
Comments: This braise is one of those perfect recipes to cook when you will be spending a nice Sunday at home, no social obligations, just playing it all by ear. I actually made it on Easter Sunday, but we enjoyed it next day. Hard to beat a meal like this after work on a Monday. It made me wonder why I don’t do this type of elaborate advanced cooking more often, like every weekend. Yeah, right. I am such a jokester! 😉
I love to keep this type of braise in the fridge overnight because not only the flavors intensify, but it makes it easy to remove the congealed fat on top. Interestingly, when I tried a bit of the sauce at the end of braising, I thought that the flavor of the vinegar was a tad too strong. Somehow it was perfectly balanced next day. The magic of Bartolini Kitchens, working at full power!
We enjoyed this delicious lamb with a smooth cauliflower puree, if you want the recipe, here is a flash back from the Bewitching Kitchen’s past. Three lamb shanks were too much for the two of us, of course. But I have big plans for the leftover meat: a lamb ragú to be served over pappardelle. That shall happen soon, the meat is waiting in the freezer. Well labeled. Obviously. 😉
The smell of this dish while braising is intoxicating. In the best possible way….
No individual was immune to it in our home.
John, thanks for a great recipe, I still want to make your Sauce in the style of Bologna which has been calling my name for a long time!
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