Toben's beer braised lamb shanks

Image for Toben's beer braised lamb shanks

Easter is just around the corner and if it's your tradition to make lamb for the occasion, then chef Toben Kochman has just the recipe for you.

If you'd rather join your guests instead of being in the kitchen, Toben, along with his team at Toben Food by Design, caters to both private and corporate clients in Toronto.

6 1/2-lb bone-in Ontario lamb shanks
salt and pepper, to taste
2 tbsp vegetable oil
1 cup diced carrot
1 cup diced white onion
1 cup diced celery
1/2 cup tomato paste
2 bottles dark beer
10 to 12 sprigs fresh thyme
2 sprigs rosemary
1 tsp juniper berries
2 cups dry red wine, preferably cabernet sauvignon
4 cups beef stock, preferably homemade or low sodium
1 tbsp granulated sugar

Preheat oven to 325°F.

Preheat a Dutch oven on medium high heat for 2 to 3 minutes. Season the lamb shanks generously with salt and pepper.  

Place the vegetable oil in the pan and sear the seasoned lamb shanks on all sides for 2 to 3 minutes per side to achieve a deep golden brown colour. Remove the browned lamb shanks from the pot.

Add the carrots, onion and celery into the Dutch oven and brown for 3 to 4 minutes until they are lightly caramelized. Stir the tomato paste into the caramelized vegetables and cook for 1 minute.  Add in the beer and scrape the bottom of the pan to pick up any browned caramelized bits from the vegetables and meat. Allow to simmer for 2 minutes.

Place the thyme, rosemary, juniper berries, red wine, beef stock and lamb shanks into the pot. Bring all the ingredients to a full rolling boil on high heat and turn down to a simmer for 2-3 minutes. Cover the pot with a lid or tin foil and oven braise the lamb for 1.5 to 2 hours, or until the meat is barely hanging onto the bone and very tender.

Remove the lamb shanks from the braising liquid and place on a baking sheet.  Using a fine mesh strainer, strain out all the vegetables and herbs from the braising liquid into a large heavy bottomed sauce pot.

Simmer the braising liquid on a medium low heat for approximately 25 to 30 minutes until it has reduced in volume by half. Taste the liquid and adjust with salt and pepper.  

Place the lamb shanks back into the reduced braising liquid and place in the oven, covered for 15-20 minutes until they are once again very hot. Transfer to a braising pot and serve immediately.