"If your dish is really straightforward, like braised meat and roasted vegetables, you have to start with truly amazing ingredients or you won't end up with anything special," says Family Supper chef Troy MacLarty, reflecting his training at ingredient-driven Chez Panisse in Berkeley, California. MacLarty says you can substitute any sweet winter squash for the sometimes hard-to-find delicata; if you're using a variety with a thicker skin, like butternut, be sure to peel it before roasting.
More Lamb Recipes
1/4 cup plus 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
6 medium lamb shanks (about 6 pounds)
Salt and freshly ground pepper
2 cups dry white wine
4 cups chicken stock or low-sodium broth
2 medium onions, coarsely chopped
1 celery rib, coarsely chopped
1 large carrot, thinly sliced crosswise
4 thyme sprigs
2 bay leaves
2 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
1 small onion, finely chopped
1 teaspoon yellow mustard seeds
1/2 teaspoon cumin seeds
4 large canned Italian plum tomatoes, drained and chopped
3 pounds small delicata squash—scrubbed, halved, seeded and cut crosswise 1 inch thick
One 2-pound head of broccoli, cut into 1 1/2-inch florets
Preheat the oven to 325°. In a large skillet, heat 1 tablespoon of the olive oil. Season the lamb shanks with salt and pepper. Add 3 of the shanks and cook over moderately high heat until browned all over, about 10 minutes. Transfer to a large roasting pan. Repeat with 1 tablespoon of the olive oil and the 3 remaining lamb shanks.
Pour off the skillet oil. Add the wine and boil for 1 minute, scraping up any browned bits; pour the wine into the roasting pan with the lamb. Add the stock, coarsely chopped onions, celery, carrot, thyme and bay leaves to the roasting pan and bring to a boil over high heat. Cover with foil and braise the lamb shanks in the oven for 2 1/2 hours, turning them once, until the meat is very tender. Remove the foil. Let cool slightly.
Meanwhile, in a medium skillet, heat 2 tablespoons of the olive oil. Add the garlic, finely chopped onion, mustard seeds and cumin seeds and cook over moderate heat until the onion is golden, about 7 minutes. Add the tomatoes and cook until reduced to 2/3 cup, about 4 minutes. Season the tomato sofrito with salt and pepper.
Increase the oven temperature to 400°. On each of 2 large rimmed baking sheets, toss the squash with 1 tablespoon of the olive oil. Season with salt and pepper and arrange in an even layer. Roast the squash for 45 minutes, or until tender. On another large rimmed baking sheet, toss the broccoli with the remaining 1 tablespoon of olive oil; season with salt and pepper. Roast for 25 minutes, or until lightly browned and just tender.
Meanwhile, transfer the lamb shanks to a work surface and cover to keep warm. Strain the braising liquid into a large saucepan and skim off the fat. Add the chickpeas, tomato sofrito and lamb shanks to the braising liquid, cover and simmer over low heat for 5 minutes. Season with salt. Stir in the roasted squash and broccoli.
Cook the couscous according to package instructions then toss with the butter and season with salt. Keep covered.
Set the lamb shanks in shallow bowls and spoon the couscous alongside. Ladle the vegetable stew on top and pass the Spicy Cilantro Pesto at the table.
The recipe can be prepared through Step 4 up to 3 days ahead. Refrigerate the shanks, braising liquid and tomato sofrito separately.
For this luscious lamb stew, pour a robust, spicy red blend from Spain or a peppery, powerful Grenache.
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