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Passover, Easter and spring are upon us during one of the most difficult times in history. Still, we can isolate and celebrate. Suzanne Tracht shared with L.A. Weekly her recipe for braised lamb shanks, which you can easily make at home and is also available for curbside pickup at her award-winning restaurant, The Jar. The shanks used in Tracht’s demonstration are from the famous Huntington Meats in the Original Farmers Market, which also delivers. Spices can  be ordered online and vegetables pre-ordered for pickup at your local farmers market.   Or just let Suzanne do the heavy lifting.

Suzanne Tracht (Anne Fishbein)

Braised Lamb Shanks

Recipe Courtesy of Suzanne Tracht, Jar Restaurant

Lamb shanks are slowly braised with aromatics, port wine and a hint of spicy Thai chili. Great served with polenta, mashed potatoes or my family’s favorite root vegetable to soak up the wonderful sauce. A fantastic dish for company and Passover, as all the prep work is done at the beginning, and then you just have to wait. the oven does all the work for you! You’ll have the most tender, fall-off-the-bone lamb.

Serves 6 to 8

  • ¼ cup whole coriander seeds, toasted and ground
  • ¼ cup whole fennel seeds, toasted and ground
  • 2 tablespoons freshly ground black pepper, plus more to taste
  • ½ cup olive oil
  • 8 bone-in lamb shanks, trimmed and patted dry
  • 3 carrots, peeled
  • 1/2 bunch (4 stalks) celery ribs and leaves
  • 2 leeks, white and light green part only, cleaned and rinsed
  • 1 white onion, peeled
  • 1 whole bulb of garlic
  • 1/2 cup canola oil
  • Kosher salt
  • 1 cup ruby port wine
  • 2 quarts chicken or veal stock
  • 1 dried Thai red chili pepper
  • 3 whole star anise cloves
  • 3 whole bay leaves, preferably fresh
  • 8 whole cloves

In a small bowl, combine the ground coriander, fennel and black pepper. Reserve half of the seasoning mixture for the stock; to the other half add the olive oil to make a paste.  Lay the lamb shanks in a single layer on a sheet pan and rub all sides of the meat with the spice paste to cover. Set the meat aside at room temperature for 1 hour to absorb the flavor. In the meantime make the stock.

Cut the carrots, celery, leeks, carrots, and onion into 1½ to 2-inch chunks and place in bowl. Cut the garlic bulb in half and add to vegetables. Heat a large pot or Dutch oven over medium-high heat and coat with the canola oil. When the oil is hot, add the prepared vegetables and reserved seasoning mixture, along with a generous pinch or two of salt. Cook and stir until the vegetables begin to soften, about 8 to 10 minutes. Carefully pour in the port and reduce for about 15 to 20 minutes, stirring as needed. Add the stock and bring to a boil, removing from heat as liquid begins to thicken.

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Preheat an outdoor grill or indoor grill pan over high heat and rub with oil.

Place shanks on hot grill, turning occasionally with tongs until well seared on both sides, then remove. Place the lamb shanks side by side in a large roasting pan. Carefully pour the vegetables and reduced stock over the shanks and season with salt and pepper. Add the Thai chili, star anise, bay leaves and cloves. Cover tightly with aluminum foil. Place in the preheated oven for two hours until very tender.

Serve the lamb shanks with the sauce spooned over the meat.