Braised Lamb Shanks with Fennel and Baby Potatoes
Yield: Servings: 6
Add the vegetables partway through braising to ensure they will have enough time to be infused with meaty flavor without overcooking. Serve with a loaf of your favorite crusty bread for sopping up the juices.
1/2 teaspoon fennel seeds
6 lamb shanks (about 1 pound each)
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
4 tablespoons olive oil, divided
4 garlic cloves, chopped
2 anchovy fillets packed in oil, drained, chopped
1 tablespoon chopped fresh thyme
1 tablespoon tomato paste
1 1/2 cups dry white wine or dry vermouth
2 cups low-sodium chicken broth
2 bay leaves
2 large fennel bulbs (about 1 1/2 pounds total), cut into 1-inch wedges t
1 pound baby red-skinned potatoes, halved
1/2 pound medium carrots (about 3), peeled, cut into 3-inch lengths, halved lengthwise, if large
1/4 cup pitted, halved green olives (such as Picholine or Lucques), divided
1/4 cup coarsely chopped flat-leaf parsley
A spice mill (optional)
Place a rack in lower third of oven; preheat to 325°. Toast fennel seeds in a small skillet over medium heat until fragrant, about 2 minutes. Let cool. Grind in spice mill or with a mortar and pestle.
Season lamb shanks with salt and pepper. Heat 2 tablespoons oil in a large heavy pot over medium-high heat. Working in batches, cook lamb shanks, reducing heat as needed to prevent overbrowning, until browned on all sides, 8-10 minutes per batch. Transfer lamb shanks to a plate.
Add remaining 2 tablespoons oil to pot and reduce heat to medium-low. Add ground fennel seeds, garlic, anchovies, thyme, and tomato paste and stir just until fragrant, about 1 minute. Add wine, scraping up any browned bits from bottom of pot. Bring to a simmer and cook until wine is slightly reduced, about 3 minutes.
Add broth and bay leaves. Return lamb shanks to pot, arranging shanks ‘head to toe’ so they fit in an even layer (the meat should not be completely covered). Cover pot and transfer to oven. Braise for 1 1/2 hours.
Turn lamb shanks over. Add fennel, potatoes, carrots, and 1/4 cup olives and tuck in around lamb shanks, submerging some in the liquid (they will cook whether they are submerged or not). Braise until meat and vegetables are fork-tender, about 45 minutes longer. DO AHEAD: Lamb can be made 3 days ahead. Let cool slightly, then chill, uncovered, until cold. Cover and keep chilled. Rewarm before continuing.
Using tongs and a slotted spoon, transfer lamb shanks and vegetables to a serving platter. Scatter remaining 1/4 cup olives over and cover with foil to keep warm.
Discard bay leaves from cooking liquid. Bring to a simmer over medium heat. Skim fat from cooking liquid. Simmer liquid until it thickens slightly, 15-20 minutes (you should have about 1 1/2 cups). Season sauce with salt and pepper and pour over lamb shanks and vegetables. Sprinkle with parsley.
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