Braised Lamb Shanks
Lamb shanks--which the French call "souris"--are the shin portion of the legs. The foreshanks are the meatiest and the easiest to find. The shank contains a good deal of connective tissue that produces a smooth, luxurious sauce when cooked in the very slow, moist heat of a braise. Do not trim the fat from the lamb shanks. The fat forms a sort of girdle, holding the lamb shanks together, and also adds flavor, color and body to the final sauce.
Banuyls, a sweet fortified wine from the Pyrenees in France's southwest, is a powerful wine usually made from at least 75 percent Grenache grapes and aged for two years. It is a distant relation of port. The best ones bear the name Rancio and come from the Domaine la Rectoire and du Mas Blanc. In Provence, one also finds some excellent vin doux naturel that are great for cooking. Wells's favorites include the 16-degree alcohol red vin doux naturel from the cave cooperative in Rasteau or the pure- Grenache Rasteau Rancio from Domaine Bressy Masson.