Braising is one of those fundamental techniques we should all be comfortable with. It’s terribly easy, and unbelievably practical. Just remember: you don’t want to completely submerge your meat ;) Keep the temp. low and slow (I’m a fan of oven-braising, come @ me you stovetop braisers), and you’ll find success without too much effort.
The flavors here are inspired by California winters: tart from citrus and sweet from dates.
3 heads Roasted Garlic (Instructions below)
1 ½ tablespoons Grated Fresh Ginger
3 teaspoons Ground Coriander
1 ½ teaspoons Dried Aleppo Chili
3 Lamb Shanks, ~1lb/each
1 Large Yellow Onion, Thinly Sliced (~1 pound)
2 tablespoons Tomato Paste
½ cup Pitted Deglet Dates (~3oz)
½ cup Dried Apricots, no sulfur (~3.5oz)
2 cups Red Wine
4 Whole Star Anise
2 Blood Oranges, Quartered (skin left on)
Stock or Water to cover lamb, roughly 1 cup
2 heads Radicchio, cut into wedges (~8 per head)
2-4 tablespoons Bacon/Chicken/Goose Fat
Italian Parsley to garnish
Season shanks all over with salt.
Make paste with roasted garlic cloves, fresh ginger, coriander, and chili by mashing all together in small bowl. Smear paste over shanks and marinate for at least one hour, and preferably overnight. Allow shanks to reach room temperature before proceeding.
Heat oven to 325˚
Scrape as much of the marinade-paste off the shanks as possible, reserving it to be stirred into the braise later. If left on, it can burn while searing the shanks.
Heat oil in heavy-bottomed stock pot or Dutch oven. Sear lamb shanks on all sides until browned all over, about 8-10 minutes. Transfer to a plate and set aside.
Add sliced onion to pot, saute with salt until softened, 6-8 minutes.
Add tomato paste, dates, and apricots. Stir to combine. Saute for 2-3 minutes. Season with salt.
Add wine, bring to a boil, scraping up brown bits on bottom of pan. Reduce heat and simmer until reduced by half, 6-8 minutes. Add star anise.
Return lamb back to pot. Add quartered oranges, and enough broth or water to barely cover the lamb (about ⅔ -¾ up the side of the shanks). Bring to a simmer, then cover pot and slide into oven.
Braise in oven until lamb is fork tender (1.5-2 hours). Transfer lamb to clean plate.
Remove orange quarters from pot, discard. Using slotted spoon, scoop out most of the onion/date/apricot mixture. Place on serving dish.
Bring remaining liquid in pot to a boil, reduce heat, and simmer until desired thickness is reached for saucing, 8-15 minutes. Season with salt.
While liquid is simmering, cook radicchio.
Heat bacon fat in cast iron pan until shimmering.
Add radicchio wedges to pan, sprinkle with salt. Cook for 2-3 minutes per side, until browned all over.
Plate lamb on top of strained date/apricot mixture, beside radicchio. Dress with reduced sauce. Garnish with parsley.
3 heads Garlic
4-6 tablespoons Olive Oil
Heat oven to 425˚.
Cut garlic bulbs in half along the equator.
Place garlic cloves on individual sheets of tin foil.
Drizzle exposed cloves with olive oil.
Put garlic bulbs “back together,” smashing the olive oil between two halves.
Wrap each bulb in foil.
Place foil packets in oven and roast until golden brown, ~60 minutes.