Some of you may recall my high praise of Jimenez Family Farms' pork sausage. I hate to break it to you newly established pork lovers, but their real secret is not pig, but lamb. Marcie Jimenez was not kidding when she told me how good her lamb is - it is absolutely phenomenal. Next time you are at the Santa Barbara Farmers Market, look for their stand and talk with Marcie about her many lamb and pork offerings. Or contact the farm directly.
Truthfully, I have never prepared lamb at home save for a lamb stew I once tried to whip together that did not go over so well. My parents have lamb periodically, but my Dad usually prepares it on the grill. So, here I was with a perfectly awesome raw lamb shank and no idea how to cook it. Luckily, I thought of my favorite cooking apparatus - my Le Creuset dutch oven. You literally cannot go wrong with a dutch oven - seriously. Add it to your Christmas list. The BIG one.
In a nut shell, I cooked the lamb for a few hours until it fell right off the bone. It was utterly perfect - so perfect, I wish I had gotten more. Fortunately, there was enough to share with Mom and the little bro - Taylor delved right in and even scraped his plate (not bad for a 9 year old). I would recommend serving this thick, rich, meaty ragout over your favorite (gluten-free) pasta or with a loaf of crusty bread, such as multi-grain, country or other rustic loaf. Cut your bread slices thick and toast them in the oven for a few minutes - I might even spread some pastured butter and sprinkle on a little sea salt next time.
I have mentioned before that I get my sun-dried heirloom tomatoes from Munak Ranch - but you could also substitute a few tablespoons of tomato paste or other sun-dried tomatoes (drained/rinsed) if needed.
Enjoy and savor each bite.
lamb shank ragout
1 1lb lamb shank
3 leeks, chopped
3 small white onions, chopped
4-5 small carrots, diced
3 cups heirloom tomatoes, coarsely chopped
1/3 cup sun-dried heirloom tomatoes, chopped
1.5 cups red wine or homemade beef stock
2 bay leaves
generous spoonful of butter, ghee or other heat stable fat
Pre-heat oven to 320 degrees Fahrenheit.
In a large, cast iron pot, heat the fat until melted. Sear lamb shank on all sides. Remove from pot.
Add onions and leeks and saute for 5 minutes or until translucent. Add carrots and saute for another 3-5 minutes. Add 1/2 cup red wine/stock and cook until most of liquid is absorbed.
Add chopped and sun-dried tomatoes, red wine/stock, and bay leaf. Put lamb shank back in pot and cover with sauce.
Cover and place in oven to bake for 2.5-3 hours or until lamb falls easily off the bone.
Serve with favorite pasta or with crusty bread.