Friday, May 27, 2011

Braised Lamb Shanks over Mascarpone Polenta

Ingredients for lamb:
1 cup all purpose flour
1 T spice mixture
4 large lamb shanks
salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 T extra virgin olive oil
2 T unsalted butter
1 1/2 cups chopped yellow onions
3/4 cup chopped carrots
3/4 cup chopped celery
2 T minced garlic
2 cups dry red wine
1 cup peeled, seeded and chopped tomatoes
2 bay leaves
2 T freshly chopped parsley leaves
1 T minced fresh rosemary leaves
2 sprigs fresh thyme
2 cups chicken broth
2 cups beef broth

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Ingredients for spice mix:
2 1/2 T paprika
2 T salt
2 T garlic powder
1 T black pepper
1 T onion powder
1 T cayenne pepper
1 T dried oregano
1 T dried thyme

Makes 2/3 cup

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Ingredients for polenta:
2 1/2 cups water
2 cups milk
1/4 cup olive oil
freshly ground white pepper
1 cup polenta (coarsely ground yellow cornmeal)
1/4 cup heavy cream
1 cup mascarpone cheese
4 sprigs rosemary, for garnish

Preparing the lamb:
In a shallow dish, combine the flour and spice mixture. Season the lamb liberally with salt and pepper, then dredge the lamb shanks in the seasoned flour, shaking to remove any excess.

In a large Dutch oven, heat the 2 tablespoons olive oil and 2 tablespoons of the butter over medium-high heat until hot. Add the lamb shanks, in batches if necessary to prevent overcrowding, and cook until well-browned on all sides, 6 to 8 minutes. Remove the shanks from the pan and set aside. Add the onions, carrots, and celery to the pan, and cook, stirring, until soft and caramelized around the edges, 4 to 6 minutes. Add the garlic and cook, stirring, for 1 minute. Add the wine and bring to a boil over high heat, stirring to deglaze the pan. Cook until reduced by half. Add the tomatoes and bay leaves and cook, stirring, for 1 minute. Add 2 tablespoons of the parsley, the rosemary, thyme, chicken broth, beef broth, and reserved shanks and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to a simmer, season with salt and pepper, cover tightly, and cook, turning the meat occasionally, until the meat is tender and falling from the bone, 1 1/2 to 2 hours.

When the lamb shanks are very tender and beginning to fall from the bone, remove them from the braising liquid using a slotted spoon and transfer to a plate, cover with foil to keep warm, and set aside. Bring the braising liquid to a boil and cook until reduced to sauce consistency and thick enough to coat the back of a spoon. Adjust seasoning if necessary and remove from the heat.
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Preparing the polenta:
In a large saucepan, bring the water and milk to a boil. Add the remaining 1/4 cup olive oil and season with salt and white pepper. Very gradually, add the polenta in a steady stream, whisking constantly. Reduce the heat to low and cook, stirring frequently with a heavy wooden spoon until thick and creamy, 20 to 30 minutes. Add the heavy cream and mascarpone to the polenta and adjust the seasoning, to taste. Cook, covered, for 10 minutes longer, or until smooth, thick and creamy. Keep warm until ready to serve the shanks.

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Assembling the lamb and polenta:
To serve, spoon the polenta into 4 large bowls. Top each with a lamb shank and spoon the sauce over the lamb. Place the tips of the rosemary sprigs in an open flame until ignited; blow out the flames and garnish each plate with a smoking rosemary sprig.

Serves 4


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