Lamb Shanks Ossobuco

As we head into the cold, long days of winter, I find myself craving comfort food that warms every part of you. A bowl of steaming stew, perfect buttery mashed potatoes or even a simple bowl of spaghetti Bolognese can fill the bill on any particular day.

I found lamb shanks on sale at the store this week and was delighted to pair them with this ossobuco style recipe for the ultimate comfort food. Usually made with veal, lamb is a nice change and the succulent meat falls off the bone when made overnight in your slow cooker. The word literally means hollow-bone and refers to the middle part of the hind shank, which has tender meat around the marrowbone. Served with risotto or polenta, ossobuco makes a delicious and satisfying meal.

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Lamb Shanks Ossobuco
SERVINGS
4
CHANGE SERVING SIZE
COOK TIME
6hours in slow cooker
PREP TIME
30minutes
READY IN
7hours

Ingredients

Instructions

  1. Cut through the tendon that connects the meat to the bone at the bottom of the shank -this will allow the meat to bunch up nicely. Season the shanks generously with salt and pepper.
  2. Heat a large frying cast iron skillet or heavy fry pan over high heat. Add 2 tablespoons of olive oil, and brown the shanks a couple at a time, turning until dark brown all over (browning creates a great depth of flavor you get once they’re cooked). Set the shanks aside in a slow cooker.
  3. Reduce the heat to medium and add the 3 Tbsp. olive oil, butter, onions, carrot, celery and garlic to the same frying pan. Cook, stirring, for 10 minutes until the vegetables are golden and soft.
  4. Turn up the heat to high, add the wine, bring to a rapid simmer and let it bubble for 30 seconds or so to burn off the alcohol.
  5. Add the tomato paste, thyme, rosemary, stock, tomatoes, bay leaves and sugar to the pan and stir to combine. Pour or spoon carefully over the shanks. Cover with the lid and cook in the slow cooker on low for 6 hrs., spooning liquid over the shanks every now and then. The meat should be almost falling off the bone by the end.
  6. Gently remove the shanks using tongs or a large spoon (careful as they will be very delicate) and set aside in a dish covered in foil.
  7. Put the cooking into a large saucepan, add the butter to the sauce and boil for about 10 minutes to reduce slightly, or until it’ a nice pouring sauce. You may need to add 2-3 tsp cornstarch mixed with 1/4 cup cold water to thicken it up. Season to taste with salt and cracked pepper.
  8. Serve the shanks over creamy mashed potatoes, polenta or risotto alongside steamed green vegetables. Pour the sauce generously over the top. Sprinkle with parsley and lemon zest if you like. Andiamo mangiare!

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Mushroom Beef Barley Soup

The kitchen was really busy last night. Eight of us were buzzing around cooking for an upcoming party. Really great energy. As much as I think I am a person who prefers to be alone, I love the energy of being in the kitchen with a crowd of people. Don’t get me wrong — there is something  to cooking alone — being there in the quiet, creating something delicious for someone else to enjoy. It ministers to my spirit, and I sometimes get great ideas and thoughts about other projects. But a group that is working well together, chaotic as it might be, also ministers to the whole group in a way that can’t be duplicated. In the middle of this I was putting together my favorite Beef Mushroom Barley soup for guests and a retreat group the next day. What could be better on a cold rainy day! My brother in law just came through and tasted the soup. He said it needed some red wine, so I added a splash. He was so right!

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Mushroom Beef Barley Soup
SERVINGS
6servings
CHANGE SERVING SIZE
servings
COOK TIME
8-10mins.
PREP TIME
READY IN

Ingredients

Instructions

  1. Pour boiling water over dried mushrooms to cover, set aside.
  2. In a large soup pot, saute beef in 1 Tablespoon oil until browned, 5 to 7 minutes, remove from pan.
  3. In the same pot, with the other Tablespoon of oil, cook your carrots, onions, leeks, celery and baby bella mushrooms until just browned, about 8 to 10 minutes.
  4. Stir in barley and thyme and cook for another minute.
  5. Add the beef broth.
  6. Drain dried mushrooms in a sieve, and add that liquid also to the pot.
  7. Chop the mushrooms until fine, and add those.
  8. Toss in the bay leaves.
  9. Simmer until meat is tender and barley cooked (about an hour for the beef tenders, and longer for the stew meat).
  10. A little while before serving pour in the wine, and heat again.
  11. Add kosher salt and ground pepper to taste. This can be made 2 or 3 days in advance — it will taste even better if made ahead.