21 November 2006

Barbara Kafka's Oven-Braised Lamb Shanks With White Beans

This hearty dish makes an ample amount of richly flavored white beans. Rather than serving the individual shanks as the entree and the beans as the side dish, consider stretching the meal by spooning the beans into shallow plates and shredding the meat over the top.

From Barbara Kafka's "Roasting" (William Morrow, 1995). Makes 4 to 8 servings

4 lamb shanks (1 to 11/4 pounds each), trimmed of visible fat

2 small onions, peeled

6 medium cloves garlic, peeled

1 cup water

2 pounds dried white beans, such as Great Northern or navy, soaked overnight in enough water to cover by 2 inches, then drained

1 bouquet garni (fashioned from a 2-inch sprig fresh rosemary, five 2-inch sprigs fresh oregano, six 2-inch sprigs fresh thyme and 1/2 dried bay leaf)

3 cups canned tomatoes with their juices, tomatoes chopped

1 cup red wine

2 cups chicken stock or broth

About 2 teaspoons kosher salt

Adjust the oven rack to the middle position and preheat the oven to 475 degrees.

Pat the shanks dry and place in a roasting pan large enough for the shanks to fit comfortably without touching.

Roast the shanks for 20 minutes. Using tongs, turn the shanks. Add the onions to the pan and turn to coat with the pan drippings. Return the pan to the oven and roast for 10 minutes. Add the garlic to the pan, turn to coat and continue roasting until the shanks are crusty and brown, about 10 minutes longer.

Using tongs, carefully transfer the shanks, onions and garlic to a plate; cover to keep warm.

Pour or spoon the fat from the pan, reserving 2 tablespoons. Place the pan on top of the stove over medium-high heat, add 1 cup water and bring to a boil. Boil, using a wooden spoon to scrape the bottom of the pan, for 3 minutes. Remove from the heat and set aside.

Reduce the oven temperature to 375 degrees.

Using the reserved 2 tablespoons fat, coat the bottom and sides of a large pot or Dutch oven with a tight-fitting lid, such as a 7-quart casserole, that is large enough for the shanks to fit comfortably without touching. Place half the beans in the pan. Coarsely chop the roasted onions and garlic and spread them over the beans. Place the shanks on top and add the bouquet garni. (If you prefer, you may scatter the herbs between the shanks instead of tying them into a bundle.) Spoon the remaining beans over and around the shanks, spreading them in an even layer. Pour over the tomatoes and their juice, the wine, stock and the reserved deglazing liquid from the roasting pan and cover the pot. Place over medium-high heat and bring to a boil.

Transfer the pot to the oven and roast for 2 hours, checking the level of liquid occasionally and adding more water as necessary. (May cool to room temperature and refrigerate for up to 24 hours. Return to room temperature prior to proceeding.)

Sprinkle the shanks and beans with the salt and, using a wooden spoon, work or mix the salt into the mixture. Return the pot to the oven and roast, uncovered, until heated through, about 20 minutes (adding more water as necessary). Remove and discard the bouquet garni.

To serve, either transfer the shanks to individual plates and spoon the beans on top or spoon the beans into shallow bowls and shred the meat over the top.

Per serving: 635 calories, 61 gm protein, 76 gm carbohydrates, 8 gm fat, 101 mg cholesterol, 3 gm saturated fat, 866 mg sodium, 19 gm dietary fiber.

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