Slow-Braised Lamb Shanks
Smoky Cassoulet Beans
With Kalamata Olives and Cherry Tomatoes
This is the second of two quick, slow-braised lamb shank dinners. QUICK and SLOW? Yes, as the lamb shanks are already slow-braised, from the refrigerated section at Costco. Are they as good as home-cooked braised shanks that take 2 1/2 hours? Of course not, but for a fast impressive meal, they rock. And the beautiful beans here are cooked one day ahead so assembling the entire dish takes less than 30 minutes.
The beans from Rancho Gordo are grown in California from classic French Tarbais seed stock. This white runner bean was developed over generations by French farmers to be the foundation for a traditional cassoulet. The combination of beans, olives, and tomatoes simmered with smoked paprika and red wine paired with lamb is heavenly.
Gremolata – a mix of chopped fresh parsley/lemon zest/garlic – adds an invigorating freshness and brightness to most braised meats. It builds another interesting layer onto this outstanding dish.
Lamb Shanks and Cassoulet Beans Recipe
Sort and rinse beans. Place in a pot and cover with cold filtered water. Soak for 6 – 8 hours.
Drain and rinse beans. Place beans back into pot and cover with 2″ of filtered water. Add roughly chopped carrot, celery, onion, smashed garlic cloves, a glug of olive oil. Bring to a boil for 10 minutes, then simmer, partially covered. Stir and check for liquid periodically. More water will be needed. When beans are about 30 minutes from done, add salt and continue to simmer until beans are creamy and completely tender.
These beans took 2 1/2 hours to cook, after soaking overnight. The only way to know when they are done is to check your batch along the way, tasting several beans each time. I suggest cooking the beans a day ahead, then refrigerate in their broth, so they are ready to go when preparing the lamb recipe.
Smoky Cassoulet Beans, Kalamata Olives, Cherry Tomatoes
- 3 T. olive oil
- 1/8 – 1/4 t. red chile flakes to taste
- 3 large garlic cloves, smashed
- 2 c. cooked cassoulet beans
- 2/3 c. kalamata olives, pitted and rough chopped
- 2 t. smoked paprika
- 3/4 t. dried Mexican oregano
- 1 can 14 oz. cherry tomatoes
- 1/4 c. dry red wine, such as syrah
- salt to taste
- parsley, chopped
Heat olive oil in a medium pot over medium heat, add chile flakes and garlic. Cook until the chile flakes start to darker and the garlic starts to turn golden, about 2 minutes.
Add beans, olives, paprika, oregano, tomatoes, and red wine. Stir to combine, bring to a gentle boil then turn down the heat and simmer about 25 minutes. Taste for salt. Add chopped parsley just before serving.
- 1 garlic clove (fresh as possible), minced
- 2 medium organic lemons, fine zest only
- 1 bunch italian parsley, finely chopped by hand
Combine all three ingredients in a small bowl.
Pomegranate Fig Lamb Shanks from Costco
Cut a 1″ slit near the end of the lamb shank pouch. Place on microwave safe dish. Microwave on high for 7 minutes 30 seconds. Let stand for 2 minutes. Carefully remove lamb shank. Discard the sauce. (The cooking time here is for one lamb shank).
The lamb shank has been slow-braised in a tangy, sweet, and savory sauce with pomegranate juice and figs. For this recipe, the sauce is discarded. Although the sauce is fruity, the meat is actually savory, tender and flavorful. It comes 2 shanks to a package and can be found in the refrigerated section at Costco.
- smoky cassoulet bean mixture
- lamb shanks
- flaky salt
- lemon wedges
- parsley sprigs
Spoon cassoulet bean mixture into warm shallow bowls, or a heated cast iron dish as shown here. Place lamb shank over the beans. Sprinkle lamb with flaky salt. Garnish with lemon wedges and parsley sprigs. Serve gremolata on the side.
Syrah and Lamb
While the streaks of fat in the lamb shank help to balance the wine’s robust side, the wine’s fruitiness balances the lamb’s earthy characteristics. The powerful qualities of Syrah make it an unsurprising match for rich meats such as lamb. It’s a great pairing.
From McPrice Myers:
“Right Hand Man is that old reliable pickup in your grandparents’ garage that fires up lickety-split when you turn the key and rev the engine. I know that any time I’m in need, it’s my Right Hand Man that will know the road home and deliver me safely there. I cut my teeth on Central Coast Syrah, it’s my refuge. May it be yours as well.”
McPrice Myers Right Hand Man Syrah 2020
Syrah/Shiraz from Central Coast, California
Notes of ripe plums, grilled herbs, peppered beef, sweet olives, vanilla bean, salted black licorice, cola, and leather. Fine, polished tannins, persistent; with a generously, savvy finish.
More Lamb Shanks
The first of two quick, slow-braised lamb shank dinners Slow-Braised Lamb Shanks, Boursin Cheese Polenta here.