braised lamb shanks, and the case of the missing rosemary bush

First off, let's get one thing straight. Lumps of brown meat are not easy to photograph. They just aren't photogenic, no matter how incredibly delicious they are. I don't have a fancy studio setup: I have me, my Nikon, my dining room table, and natural light. So trust me: even though they don't look like much, they are so, so, sooooo good.  

I mean, really, incredibly flavorful, tender, and delicious. And EASY. I can't think of an easier, more decadent Christmas dinner than these lamb shanks. You can make them up to three days ahead and reheat them before serving- they will only get more delicious as they sit. Any dinner party guests will be suitably impressed, and you won't have a kitchen full of dishes at the end of the meal.

A few months ago, I was in Cincinnati helping my mom move out of her house, and I became responsible for three of her potted herbs: rosemary, mint, and oregano. They each had their own sweet ceramic pot and were hale and hearty plants- Mom is an excellent gardener. They were very large outdoor plants, so I had to set them outside our apartment building, around the back. I watered them and tended them, and would use snippings in my cooking all the time.

Well, things went downhill from there. The mint and oregano became the favorite target for some of the apartment dogs at potty time, and they are dead as a doornail. I mean, DEAD. For some reason though, the dogs left the rosemary bush alone, and it was just beautiful. Very large and healthy.

A few days ago, I stepped outside to take Truman out, and I went to check on my lone survivor, as I am wont to do. Imagine my surprise when I discovered the rosemary plant had vanished. Poof. No rosemary bush. The dead plants were left behind (great) but the one plant I actually used almost daily was gone, pot and all.

It took a minute for this to set in. Someone stole a rosemary bush? How can this be? Why would they do such a thing? The worst part was that they aren't actually my plants, they're my mom's, and two of them already died in my care. Now the third plant walked away? Woof. Rough. 

So, I did what any normal person would do. I put up a sign begging for my plant back.

MISSING

My sweet rosemary bush in its blue pot. Here’s the thing: these plants belonged to my mom, and they meant a lot to me. The mint and oregano died due to urine saturation from dogs living here, but the rosemary was hanging on.

If I left them outside our door, they would die because there isn’t enough sunlight, so I had to put them here.

If you have my mom’s rosemary bush, please return it. I will even buy you a replacement bush.

 

Thanks!!!!!!         –Angela in 605

As of yet, this has yielded approximately zero results, but it made me feel better.

I will keep you all apprised of any reappearances of the rosemary plant...until then, make these lamb shanks. It will make both of us feel better. 

Here's how it's done:

Preheat the oven to 375.

Dry your lamb shanks very well with paper towels, then season liberally with salt and pepper on all sides.

In an ovenproof, heavy pot, heat the oil over medium high heat. Add the shanks and cook, turning as needed, until well browned on all sides.

Once they're well browned, remove from the pot and set aside.

Pour out all but 1 T of the oil and add the celery, carrot, and onion to the pot over medium heat.

Cook for about five minutes, or until the veggies begin to soften. Add the wine and bring to a boil.

Return the lamb shanks to the pot, and add the bay leaves, rosemary, garlic, and chicken stock. Stir and bring to a boil.

Once the mix is boiling, cover and put in the preheated oven. Braise, covered, for two hours.

Remove the shanks from the pot and set aside.

Pour the contents of the pot through a fine mesh strainer and discard the solids. In a small saucepan over medium heat, cook the pan sauce until it reduces by half and thickens slightly (about 30 minutes).

When you are ready to eat the lamb shanks, preheat the oven to 350. Pour the reduced braising liquid over them, then top with the parmesan. Bake for 10-15 minutes, until the parm is starting to brown and the sauce is boiling. Serve immediately, spooning the pan sauce over the shanks.

One note: I only made two shanks as there are only two of us. You can use this recipe for as many as six lamb shanks without making any adjustments- or as few as one :).

Here's the recipe: