Lamb Shanks with Gusto

Each year, I purchase half  a lamb from local farmers Al and Donna Kozac of Duende Farm. I first met Al and Donna at their booth at the Haney Farmers Market in Maple Ridge BC. I stopped by to buy some of their locally famous Russian Porcelain Garlic. They call it Gusto Garlic, and it is not misnamed. Robust, spicy and pungent, its alluring scent wafts up from the baskets and bunches that line their stall each summer.  Conversations ensued, as happens when you meet market vendors, and our shared love of garlicky food led to the happy discovery that they had lamb available, too.

russian garlic

The first year I visited this charming farm, I got a tour of Al’s woodshop. A farmer and a craftsman, Al is known for his custom furniture and gorgeous handcrafted cutting boards, also available at the farmers market. This year on my visit I met an array of pets and livestock and got an invitation to pick fresh raspberries.

I happened to mention to Al and Donna that despite skyrocketing summer temperatures, I had used up the last of my existing lamb supply making Braised Lamb Shanks with White Beans and Thyme. How the shanks escaped my winter cooking, none of us could figure out. It’s one of my favorite parts of the lamb and I am simply convinced that they must have multiplied in the freezer. Donna was eager for my recipe.

There isn’t really a recipe for this – it is more of a method. But here it is for Al and Donna, with gusto!

Braised Lamb Shanks

  • Early in the day soak 3/4 cup of small white beans in 4 cups water. Leave in water at least six hours.
  • Preheat oven to 325.
  • Season shanks with sea salt and freshly group pepper. Brown lamb shanks  in olive oil in a large dutch oven on the stovetop.
  • Remove shanks from pot and add 3-6 large garlic cloves sliced and  a chopped large onion. Sauté in oil and drippings until softish.
  • Add 2-3 slices carrots, 2-3 stalks of chopped celery, two bay leaves and a small handful of fresh thyme. Sweat these together for 5 minutes or so.
  • Add 1 1/2 to 2 cups of red wine to deglaze the pan. Add 1 large (28 oz) can of stewed tomatoes.
  • Rinse beans thoroughly and add.  Season with sea salt and freshly ground pepper to taste.
  • Return lamb shanks to the pot. Make sure the vegetables are covered in liquid. Bring the liquid to a low boil.
  • Cover and pop into the oven for approximately two hours. When the beans are tender the dish is finished. (Check during cooking. You may  need to add additional liquid).
  • While you are waiting, chop up a couple of slices of bacon and sauté the bacon pieces. Drain off the fat. Add the bacon to the pot for the last 15 minutes of cooking time.
  • Garnish with fresh chopped parsley.

This is a hearty, filling dish (although that didn’t deter us from heaping on the second helpings!). We served it with a light cucumber salad. Enjoy!


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About Vicki

I’m a coach and consultant and in my spare time I like to cook and play house. I believe happy idleness is a purposeful pathway to a contented life. And I am happiest either in my pajamas or an apron – or both.

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