How to Cook Lamb Shank

Lamb shank doesn't have to be intimidating - Paras Shah of Kat & Theo shows us the steps to this labor of love

Kat & Theo’s Braised Lamb Shank
Executive Chef Paras Shah

For Lamb: 
4 lamb hind-shanks
1 onion, cut in half width-wise
1 carrot
1 head of garlic cut in half
2 stems each rosemary & thyme
3 bay leaves
6 whole dried figs
1 bottle dry red wine
2 whole cloves
1 star anise pod
3 Thai long peppers (or 10 black peppercorns)
Salt and pepper, to taste
Water, as needed
Olive oil, as needed

- Pre heat oven to 325 degrees F
- Season the shanks with salt and pepper. Place a Dutch oven on a medium flame and add enough olive oil to cover the bottom of the pan. Sear the lamb shanks until well browned and set aside. 
- Meanwhile, place cut-sides of two onion halves over open flame or in a hot cast-iron skillet and cook until charred. 
- Add the charred onion, carrot and cut head of garlic to Dutch oven and cook until caramelized. Add the rosemary, thyme and bay leaves and cook one minute. Deglaze the pan with half the bottle of wine, scraping up all the brown bits from the botton, and add cloves, star anise, peppers and dried figs. 
-Add the lamb shanks back to the pan and bring to a boil; then reduce to a simmer and put cover the Dutch oven. Place into the pre-heated oven and braise for 3 hours, or until tender but not falling off the bone.
- Once tender, set aside and let the lamb cool in the braising liquid. Strain out cooking liquid, skim the fat and simmer liquid to reduce by at least half.
- Once reduced, add the other half of the bottle of wine, and reduce the liquid by half again.

For the Rye Berries:

1 cup rye berries (or wheat berries, farro, or any other whole grain you would like)
1 carrot, small dice
1/4 rutabaga, small dice
2 parsnips, small dice
1/4 cup thick-cut lamb bacon, rendered until crispy, reserving some of the fat (pig bacon works as well)
4 fresh figs, cut into quarters

Salt and pepper, as needed
Water, as needed

- Cook the rye berries according to the cooking instructions on the package, or 3 parts water to 1 part rye berries; bring to a boil and simmer until tender.
- In a bowl, mix the root vegetables and season with salt and pepper and olive oil. Place on an oven-proof baking sheet and bake until browned and tender. You can also sauté until browned in a pan with a little olive oil.
- To finish, add the rendered bacon to the pan along with any remaining bacon fat and sauté the bacon and vegetables together, then add the rye berries and cook until hot. 
- Using a blowtorch or oven flame, char the figs over fire, or roast in non-stick pan with olive oil. 

To finish the dish:

- Add the lamb shanks back into reduce liquid in Dutch oven and cook over medium heat until the lamb shanks are well glazed.
- In a large serving bowl, add a base of the rye berry mixture with 4 pieces of the fig quarters around the plate. Place 1 lamb shank onto the bed of rye berries and pour some braising liquid lamb; then serve.

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