Braised Lamb Shanks with Trahana Pasta and Ricotta Salata
- ACTIVE: 45 MIN
- TOTAL TIME: 3 HRS 30 MIN
- SERVINGS: 6
Trahana pasta, made with goat's-milk yogurt, has a slight tartness that's great with this rich oven-braised lamb from chef Pano Karatassos of Kyma in Atlanta. If you can't find it at a Middle Eastern market, substitute couscous and add an extra squirt of lemon juice.
- 6 lamb shanks (1 pound each)
- Salt and freshly ground pepper
- 3/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
- 3 tablespoons unsalted butter
- 1 extra-large white onion, chopped
- 8 large garlic cloves, thinly sliced
- 12 thyme sprigs
- 1 1/2 quarts chicken stock or low-sodium broth
- 3 large shallots, finely chopped
- Two 28-ounce cans Italian pureed tomatoes
- 1 cinnamon stick
- 3 cups sour trahana pasta (see Note) or couscous
- 1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons minced dill
- 1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons minced flat-leaf parsley
- 1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons snipped chives
- 1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
- 3/4 pound ricotta salata, shredded
- Season the lamb shanks with salt and pepper. In a very large skillet, heat 2 tablespoons of the olive oil. Add the shanks and cook over moderately high heat until browned, about 10 minutes. Transfer the lamb shanks to a medium roasting pan.
- Preheat the oven to 325°. Melt the butter in the skillet. Add the onion, garlic and 8 of the thyme sprigs and cook over moderate heat, stirring occasionally, until the onions are softened, about 7 minutes. Scrape the onions into the roasting pan and add the stock. Cover the pan with foil and braise the shanks in the oven for 2 1/2 hours, or until the meat is very tender.
- Transfer the lamb to a large ovenproof platter. Strain the braising liquid into a bowl through a fine sieve and skim off the fat. You should have 7 1/2 cups; if necessary, add more water. Cover the lamb shanks with foil and keep warm in the oven.
- Meanwhile, in a medium saucepan, heat 1/4 cup of the olive oil. Add the shallots and the remaining 4 thyme sprigs and cook over moderate heat, stirring occasionally, until the shallots are softened, about 7 minutes. Add the tomato puree and cinnamon stick and cook over moderate heat until the sauce is very thick and reduced to 3 cups, about 30 minutes. Season with salt and pepper. Discard the cinnamon stick and thyme sprigs.
- In a large saucepan, bring the braising liquid to a boil. Add the trahana and bring to a boil, stirring constantly. Reduce the heat to low, cover and cook for 10 minutes or until all of the liquid has been absorbed; stir occasionally. Transfer the trahana to a bowl and stir in the tomato sauce, dill, parsley, chives and lemon juice. Fold in half of the cheese and the remaining 1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons of olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Mound the trahana on a large platter. Sprinkle the remaining cheese on top. Arrange the lamb shanks on top of the trahana and serve.
The lamb and ricotta salata suggest a spicy, dark, fruity, earthy Agiorgitiko from Greece to cut the richness.