Braised Lamb Shanks with Mint-Parsley Pesto
Borrowing from the classic combo of lamb served with mint jelly, this comforting dish braises the lesser-used cut of lamb shank until fork tender, then brightens it all up with a mint-orange pesto. It’s a nice way to bring spring into the meal any time of year.
What to buy: We used lamb foreshanks for this recipe; most high-end butchers and grocery stores carry them.
Game plan: The pesto can be made and the shanks fully cooked up to 2 days ahead—just don’t stir in the pesto until the last minute. To serve, rewarm the shanks on the stove over medium-low heat, then whisk in the pesto.
This recipe was featured as part of our Hosting Your First Passover menu.
For the lamb:
- 4 (12-ounce to 1-pound) whole lamb foreshanks, trimmed of excess fat
- 12 medium garlic cloves, peeled
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 2 medium celery ribs, coarsely chopped
- 1 medium carrot, coarsely chopped
- 1/2 yellow onion, coarsely chopped
- 1/2 cup dry white wine or water
- 2 cups low-sodium chicken broth
For the pesto:
- 3 cups packed fresh mint leaves
- 2 cups packed fresh Italian parsley
- 2 tablespoons freshly squeezed orange juice
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1 medium garlic clove
- 4 teaspoons olive oil
- 1 tablespoon orange zest
For the lamb:
1Heat the oven to 325°F and arrange a rack in the lower third. Using a paring knife and starting at the tapered end of the shank, cut between the meat and bone and work down the bone to create a pocket about 3 inches long. Stuff each lamb shank with 3 garlic cloves and season well with salt and freshly ground black pepper.
2Heat 1 tablespoon of the olive oil in a large Dutch oven or deep oven-safe pot with a tightfitting lid over medium-high heat. When the oil smokes, add the shanks and cook until well browned on all sides, about 7 to 10 minutes. (You may need to do this in 2 batches.) Remove to a plate and set aside.
3Remove the pot from heat until no longer smoking. Add remaining 1 tablespoon olive oil and return to the stove over medium heat. Once oil shimmers, add celery, carrot, and onion, season with salt, and cook until softened, about 4 minutes. Increase heat to medium high, add wine or water, and cook, scraping up any browned bits. Increase heat to high and nest shanks among vegetables, then add broth and any accumulated juices (the broth should surround, but not cover, the shanks). Bring to a simmer.
4Once simmering, cover and transfer to the oven. Braise the shanks, turning every 45 minutes or so, until the meat is fork tender, about 1 1/2 hours. Uncover and cook, turning once, until the meat is fork tender and falling off the bone, about 25 minutes more. Meanwhile, make the pesto.
For the pesto:
1In the bowl of a food processor fitted with a blade attachment, combine mint, parsley, orange juice, salt, and garlic and process until smooth. With the processor running, add oil in a thin stream until evenly incorporated. Stir in orange zest and set aside.
To finish the lamb:
1Remove the lamb from the oven, transfer to a plate, and strain the sauce through a fine mesh strainer into a bowl. Discard the vegetables and return the sauce to the pot. Add pesto, stirring to combine, then return the shanks to the sauce, turn to coat, and cook over low heat until warmed through. Taste the sauce and add salt and pepper as needed.
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