Why It Works
- Braising half the mint with the meat and using the other half as a garnish imparts layers of savory and fresh flavors to the rich lamb.
- Along with drippings from the lamb shank, grainy mustard and Worcestershire sauce contribute to a deliciously meaty gravy that can be quickly reduced before serving.
Every other month I wait by my mailbox for my favorite magazine: Elle à Table. I pay a small fortune to import it from France, but it's worth every centime. It's full of all the glossy, chic, too-cool-for-school French recipes and hot spots and food trends, and I eat it up. It's offered me a few inspirations over the years, and this week I was heartily rewarded for my subscription fee.
I saw a recipe for lamb stewed with mustard and mint. I shut the magazine right there—I don't like to see the ingredients for fear that I'll copycat—and I set about making my own version.
Lamb shank, on the bone, seared in olive oil, and simmered in a broth flavored with shallots, garlic, beef stock, wine, Worcestershire sauce, whole grain mustard, and an entire bunch of fresh mint. The meat jitters in the pot for two hours until it just gives up and falls off the bone. The bone itself and the heat of the oven reduce the sauce until it coats a spoon in that deliciously velvety way that you know only means good things, and the top of the lamb gets crisp like barbecue. The Worcestershire makes it all taste like meaty gravy, and the whole grain mustard is surprisingly gentle, imparting a sweet sting to the broth.
But the pièce de résistance is the mint. Left on the stem, strewn haphazardly over the meat, and then baked for hours, it imparts a lightness and surprising savoriness to the dish. It's no surprise that mint goes well with lamb, but this goes so far beyond 1980's neon mint jelly that it's like coming to the discovery all on one's own.
I made this for our Sunday evening roast, and Mr. English didn't even look up from his plate until he peered at mine and asked, "Are you gonna finish that?"
2 tablespoons olive oil
4 lamb shanks (about 3 pounds)
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 medium shallots, minced (about 3 tablespoons)
4 medium cloves garlic, minced (about 4 teaspoons)
1 cup dry white wine
2 cups low-sodium canned or homemade chicken or beef broth
2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
2 tablespoons whole grain mustard
1 bunch fresh mint, left on the stem, divided
Preheat oven to 350°F (180°C). In a braising pan or Dutch oven, heat olive oil over high heat until smoking. Season lamb with salt and pepper and sear until brown on all sides, about 8 minutes total. Add shallots and garlic, and stir into oil until fragrant, about 15 seconds. Immediately add wine and boil for 1 minute. Add broth, Worcestershire sauce, and mustard. Stir with a wooden spoon, scraping up any browned bits from the bottom of the pan. Cover top of ingredients with half of the fresh mint, and cover pot. Transfer to oven and cook until the meat is falling off the bone, 2 to 2 1/2 hours.
Carefully remove shanks with tongs and set on a serving platter. Simmer sauce on stovetop until reduced to about 1 1/2 cups. Skim off fat with a large spoon or ladle. Season to taste with more salt and pepper. Roughly chop remaining mint. Serve lamb ladled with sauce and sprinkled with mint.
|Nutrition Facts (per serving)|
|Amount per serving|
|% Daily Value*|
|Total Fat 19g||25%|
|Saturated Fat 6g||30%|
|Total Carbohydrate 7g||3%|
|Dietary Fiber 1g||3%|
|Total Sugars 2g|
|Vitamin C 4mg||18%|
|*The % Daily Value (DV) tells you how much a nutrient in a food serving contributes to a daily diet. 2,000 calories a day is used for general nutrition advice.|