An opinionated blog beginning with advice on how to create the ultimate French sauces
Intro: I love the lamb shank because it involves my favorite French cooking technique, Braising. When you braise a lamb shank it becomes tender and creates a thin and flavorful sauce called Au Jus.
The process is an easy one: just make sure to give yourself time to cook the lamb and don't forget to cook an accompanying starch (potatoes, etc.) to help hold the shank up in the center of the plate.
Note: the following recipe is for 4 guests.
4 tbsp olive oil,
4 lamb shanks seasoned with salt and pepper,
6 whole garlic cloves,
3/4 cups each of onions and carrots, peeled and roughly chopped,
4 tbsp red wine,
1 qt chicken stock,
a small handful of your favorite herbs left whole.
1) Sear your shanks. In a large pot with almost smoking oil, carefully sear the lamb shanks, two at a time, on all sides until golden brown and then remove them and set them aside.
2) Sauté your vegetables, strain out the oil, add your red wine, reduce the wine by about half, and replace your shanks.
3) Add chicken stock and the herbs, cover the shanks, and let the shanks braise in a 375 degree oven for about two hours.
Searing the shanks, two at a time.
Sautéing the vegetables
4) When the shanks are done remove them and strain and discard the garlic, onions, carrots, and herbs. (You can tell when the shanks are done because the meat will loosen from the bones and the shanks will be tender to the touch. Also the bones will start to become ivory-colored).
5) Skim the fat from the top of the au jus and put the shanks back in the strained au jus to keep them moist and hot.
Ready to remove from the oven.
Braised Lamb Shank with Au Jus over Parmesan Polenta.
Terms related to lamb shanks:
Au Jus- Braising liquid or juice.
Braising- Method of sautéing a protein and then cooking it in its own juices along with added liquid(s).
Brent Littlefield has worked as a chef de cuisine, pastry chef, saucier, and sous chef, for more than 25 years in San Francisco, San Diego, and Las Vegas.