Honey Braised Lamb Shanks

I only discovered this recently, but lamb is fantastic. Then I found this beautiful little pair of lamb shanks just waiting to be braised and served devoured by a beastly pair of blackbirds. And Ludo Lefebvre had such a delightful looking recipe for veal shank, I just had to. . . change it. I know, I’m terrible. Incidentally, he is one gorgeous chef. And I hate him a little for it. Um, anyway. Lamb!

Honey braised lamb with artichoke hearts and kale. I cooked it too long. Lefebvre’s recipe was for a single four-pound veal shank; I used two just-under-a-pound lamb shanks and cut the cooking time by. . . not enough.

Braised Lamb Shanks (serves two)

Two lamb shanks

1 T mustard powder

1 T kosher salt

2 T olive oil

1/2 to 3/4 cup honey

3 cups lamb stock, plus 1/2 cup for later

You really need a good cast iron pan for this. Something that goes from stovetop to oven, at any rate.

First, heat the olive oil in your cast iron pan, and preheat the oven to 425°F Rub the mustard powder and salt into the shanks, then brown them gently on all sides. This took me about 6 minutes, and because my pan was too big for these lovely little shanks, filled the apartment with smoke. Then, pour honey all over the lamb.

Drip Drip Drop

Give it a moment to simmer, and add the 3 cups of stock. If your cast iron isn’t as ridiculously huge as mine, use less stock. Remember, you’re gonna be lifting this into the oven in a minute and you do not want it sloshing all over the stove.

Bring the stock-and-honey gorgeousness to a simmer, stirring the honey in. Add a handful of rosemary or mint or thyme here if you like. I completely forgot, and left the rosemary sitting on the counter. Move the pan–carefully!– to the oven and braise uncovered for an hour to an hour and a half (we did two hours, which was way too long but still very nummy.) If you have a meat thermometer, you’re looking for an internal temperature of about 160°F, or 150°F if you like it rare. My thermometer is out of battery. So, it’s braising. Go play a board game or something.

Oh, you should be popping in to turn the shanks over so they’re evenly honey-glazed on all sides every 20 minutes or half an hour.

About 20 minutes before you’re ready to serve, get out your kale. Look at how pretty and crisp and better than swiss chard it is.  With all those precious frills and proud, crunchy, stems, I beg you, don’t overcook this. Chop the stems out and set aside. Cut the rest into bite-sized pieces.

Boil some  water in a little saucepan. Add the stems and cook 3-4 minutes. Add the leaves and cook 3 minutes more. Drain.

Now you should be ready to pull the lamb out of the oven. If you’re like me, the smell has been calling to you since about when you added the honey. So, let’s see how it looks.

Um. I was going for deep amber brown, not black. We all make mistakes, let’s move on. Move the shanks to your serving plates, and add the 1/2 cup of broth you were holding back to the pan, scraping to get the good bits. Pour this sauce in a boul or gravy boat or whatever you have lying around. You’ll be pouring this over your kale, dipping bread in it, licking it off your fingers. . . Wait, no. You’re probably civilized, so scratch that last. Sorry about that.

Overcooked or not, it was amazing. The cats were still trying to chew on the bones at three in the morning, after breaking into the trash bin. Make this. Make it soon. You will impress people, possibly even yourself.

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