There's nothing that quite tops a family feast as a yummy braised meaty dish, one perhaps like braised lamb shank. If you’d like to do this for regular dinner time you can start at 3 or 4 PM. If it’s for a late dinner you can begin at sundown. First, though, you need to roast a little over two kilos of lamb shanks (4.5 lbs exactly) for about an hour. Total preparation plus cooking time takes about 2 1/2 hours. There’s lots of love in slow cooking to be had and just remember patience is a virtue.
We begin by preheating the oven to 230° C and while that’s preheating we prepare the spice rub for the shanks. The combined spice rub you see above is made of the following ingredients.
We purposely made more of the spice rub than we needed (double the actual recipe), We only used a total of four teaspoons of the resulting powder once this is all mixed together. The extra we will store for future dishes or if additional seasoning is needed.
2 teaspoons ground all-spice
2 teaspoons ground cloves
2 teaspoons ground nutmeg
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
Grind all of that together finely (you can use a mortar and pestle or spice grinder) then you massage 4 teaspoons of the spice rub all over the lamb shanks and season with sea salt and freshly ground black pepper. Finish by cutting deep slits in each shank to create pockets for the herbed butter.
(Mix all together with a spatula into a cold paste, then insert into slit pockets in shanks):
100 grams of cold butter
6 sprigs of rosemary, tear off the leaves and discard the stems
2 sprigs of thyme
a pinch of dried ground sage (optional)
Once you’ve got the herbed butter done, insert into the shank pocket slits you cut into the lamb. Insert and spread to be exact. It’s like a little yummy secret inside the shanks. When each of the shanks are covered with the spice rub and filled with their share of herbed butter, pop them into the oven at 230°C and roast for 1 hour. Once roasted, use the port wine from the next step to deglaze the pan and use for braising.
BRAISING LIQUID (After you’ve used the port wine to deglaze the roasting tray with the drippings combine that with the chicken stock then put in the shanks. Braise for 1.5 hours in the oven at 175° C in this liquid):
1 & 1/4 cup of port wine
A quart and 1/2 cup of chicken stock
After 1.5 hours of braising, remove from the oven, rest the meat for 10 minutes, and turn the remaining braising liquid in the tray into gravy.
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Photos by the author