You have to wonder why lamb shanks are not cooked more often by home cooks or why this succulent dish doesn’t make it to the choice location on a fine restaurant dinner menu.
It can’t be because it is difficult to make. It is so simple and failproof.
It can’t be because it isn’t pleasing to the eyes. It’s gorgeous and a sight to behold.
It can’t be because the taste is unappealing. It has more depth and flavor than a filet mignon.
It can’t be because it is a gamble to serve guests who are turned off by meat with a bone. Debone it and you have a dainty fare.
So what is it? Why aren’t we making lamb shanks more often?
Perhaps you don’t know what it is. Lamb shanks are part of the leg bone and part of the round shoulder bone. It is covered by a thin layer of fat and a thin, paperlike covering.
Perhaps you don’t know how to prepare it. Don’t feel bad because I did not either. I guessed braising, since that paperlike covering is so tough and there is a bone in it, after all. Bones just beg to be braised. From there I wasn’t exactly sure what came next… so I googled it. I quickly dismissed all the “corporate” recipe sites like food network. I wanted to learn how to make my first lamb shank from a real person. Someone who has a love for the shank. Someone with a story. I found it from a blogger whose only profile information says he is a “retired American, ex-business man now living in rural France.” Perfect. I highly recommend his recipe version of lamb shanks for your first venture.
Perhaps you don’t know where to buy a lamb shank. Fair enough. It is not like Walmart carries it. Or Fresh Market. Sometimes, in a blue moon, Allens Market in Bella Vista has them. You can always ask your local butcher but better yet… find a local lamb farm in your area. In Northwest Arkansas, we are lucky to have Olive Ewe Lamb Farm in Lowell. In October 2011 I purchased some meat from them and blogged about the farm. They have butchered lamb ready for purchase and spring lambs are just around the corner.
Braising lamb shanks is a conversation piece. It is hearty yet delicate. It has the wow factor. Best of all, it is so completely doable, whether you are a novice cook or seasoned chef. In fact, I challenge you to braise lamb shanks before the winter is over. I’ll even give you until springtime. I want a full report and yes, photos please!
Eat well, my friends. Eat well.