Sunday, May 23, 2010

Lamb Shanks Cooked in Yogurt

Was craving a hearty stew and something light at the same time, so this minty recipe, found in Bittman's Best Recipes in the World (thank you, Norah and Jeff!), seemed like a decent compromise. The title's perhaps a bit misleading, as the yogurt is added during the last few minutes of cooking, but this turned out wonderfully. Used slightly less meat and more garlic (surprise) than the recipe called for, but it turned out wonderfully - rich and yet with a tangy lightness from the yogurt and the mint (fresh from our garden patch); when the dill comes in, I'll use that in a variant of this dish. Served it with couscous and chives (also fresh from outside).
  • 1 tbsp. olive oil
  • 2 meaty lamb shanks (3.2 lbs)
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 25 or so garlic cloves (2 heads), peeled
  • 2 large onions, roughly chopped
  • 2 tbsp. cornstarch
  • 1 quart yogurt (used full-fat Greek)
  • 1-2 tsp. minced garlic (used two fat cloves)
  • chopped fresh mint leaves for garnish (used about 1.5 tbsp. per serving)
Put olive oil in a deep pot or Dutch oven over high heat. Wait for a minute, then add the lamb shanks. Brown well, turning as necessary and sprinkling the meat with salt and pepper as it browns (about 10 min.).  Action shot below:

When meat is browned, add whole garlic cloves. Cook for another minute or two, then add the onions. Stir to distribute everything evenly, turn the heat to low, and cover. Cook gently, checking to make sure the mixture doesn't dry out - add water or stock in half-cup increments if it does (mine had plenty of fluid from both the meat and the onions).

Cook till the lamb is quite tender, about 1.5-2 hours (more like 2 hours for me).

Thin the cornstarch with two tbsp. of water, then stir into yogurt along with the minced garlic. Then stir this mixture into the pot with the lamb. Simmer, uncovered, for a few minutes (I went about 10, but that's partially because I was preparing couscous). Adjust seasoning, then garnish with the fresh herbs and serve.

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