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Guiness Braised Lamb Shanks

Remember a few months back when when I blogged about my kitchen getting a makeover?  Well, it’s officially complete and I’m officially giddy.  It’s been a really long, arduous process.  There were a few times when it was difficult to see the light at the end of the construction tunnel, but we pushed through and in the end it was well worth it.  I thought I’d share a few pictures of the before and after so you can see the changes we made.  Here are a couple shots of the original space…

The kitchen space before the remodel

The family room area “pre-screen porch”

…and here is the new and improved kitchen.

What once was a cramped little eating area where the outside door literally “banged” into the table every time someone came and went outside, is now a space large enough to sufficiently hold our football team full of boys with a couple seats left over for friends.   We have a computer corner on one side so I can watch their every internet move while cooking and a storage bench on the other to keep track of any and all outdoor screen porch supplies.

And speaking of the screen porch… well, I’ll let the pictures do the talking.  There’s still a little more decorating to do, but it’s well on it’s way to being my new favorite spot in the house.  Just me, a cup of coffee, a good book or my email and I’ll never come back inside.

The new outdoor space

Until it’s time to eat, that is.

St. Patty’s day is right around the corner.  Last week I posted a taste tantalizing recipe for Irish boxty and this week I decided it deserved a worthy accompaniment.  I can’t think of a more Irish flavor than Guiness, so I decided to pick up a hunk of lamb and do a little beer braising.  My husband was in red meat heaven with this dish.  He ate an entire shank himself and proclaimed it perfection.

Cook it long and low and this meat will literally fall off the bone in an utter display of fork tender flavor “fabulousness”.

Begin with a dutch oven and a little oil on high heat.  Salt and pepper a few top choice shanks.

Drop them into the oil and sear on all sides until you’re left with a pair of beautifully crusted meat hunks.  Pull the lamb out, turn the heat down a click and add in a little mirepoix and some garlic.  And in case you’re saying mire-whaaa?  Mirepoix (pronounced Mirror-pwa) is simply a fancy way of saying celery, onions and carrots.   I guess you could say I’m feeling a bit chichi in the vocabulary department this morning.

After your veggies have cooked for a couple minutes, drop in a little flour to coat and allow it toast to a golden brown.

Take a healthy swig of the Guiness (it’s the Irish way) and pour the rest into the pot for a little deglazing action.

Add in a little red wine and finish with a few cups of beef broth.  I was going to add a bouquet garni (I warned you I was feeling a bit chichi) to the pot, but I was out of kitchen twine so I decided to chop up the herbs instead and simply dump them into the pot.  Both methods work equally well.  Drop your lamb shanks back into the mix, cover tight and place into the oven for some low and slow cooking.  In they go…

…and out they come.  The shanks were so beautifully cooked that I needed a spatula to help me get them out in one piece.

Once you’ve set the meat to the side, track down an emulsifier and smooth out the gravy.  Add in a tablespoon of vinegar to brighten the flavors, season with salt and pepper and you’re ready for an Irish feast.  Sláinte!

Guiness Braised Lamb Shanks

Yield: 2 Lamb Shanks (about 4 adult sized portions)

Total Time: 3 hours

Ingredients:

2.5 Pounds Lamb Shank
1 Tbsp Canola Oil
1/2 Onion, Chopped
2 Carrots, Chopped
2 Stalks Celery, Chopped
4 Whole Garlic Cloves
2 Tbsp Flour
8 Oz. Guinness Stout Beer
1 Cup Red Wine
3-4 Cups Beef Stock (enough to cover the shanks about halfway up)
3-4 sprigs Mint, Thyme and Rosemary (either tied together or chopped)
1 Tbsp White Vinegar
Salt and Pepper, to Taste

Directions:

Over high heat, add the oil to a large dutch oven.

Salt and pepper the lamb shanks and set in the pot to sear for 2-3 minutes per side.

Remove the lamb and add in the onions, carrots, celery and garlic. Cook for 2-3 minutes until onions are translucent.

Add in the flour and coat the vegetables. Let cook for a 2-3 minutes more to toast the flour, stirring occasionally.

Pour in the beer to deglaze the pot.

Add in the red wine. Add in beef broth until the liquid level is high enough to cover the meat about halfway.

Drop in your tied herb bundle or chopped herbs.

Place the meat back into the pot and cover tightly.

Slide into a 325 degree oven for about 2 to 2.5 hours. Meat is done when it is falling off the bone.

Remove the lamb from the dutch oven and, if you used a tied herb bundle, pull it out at this time.

Smooth out the sauce with an emulsifier.

Add in the vinegar and season with salt and pepper to taste.

Serve the gravy over the lamb with mashers, boxty, colcannon or the like.