Braised lamb shanks are a wonderful dish to make if you love slow-cooked meat that is tender and falls off the bone.
Traditional lamb shank recipes usually have wine as the braising liquid, but take one bite of this savory dish and you’ll immediately know something is different: beer.
Johnson County Community College student chef Rateb Aburas chose beer, particularly an IPA, for braising lamb to create a greater depth of flavor.
“I picked the hoppiest beer because it counteracts the sweetness of the vegetables, and the acidity of the beer tones down the pepper spice,” Aburas says.
He cooks the lamb in a roaster for 2 1/2 hours until the meat practically falls off the bone.
Aburas pairs the lamb shank with saffron rice, which he says complements all the rich, sweet flavors of the meat.
He says the hardest parts of the dish are balancing the flavors and getting the rice to the proper consistency.
“It is all about getting a good toast on the rice so it seals,” Aburas says. “I don’t want the rice mushy.”
About the chef
Recipe and food styling by Rateb Aburas, 20, third-semester student in the Johnson County Community College food and beverage management program. He is an apprentice at La Bodega in Leawood.
About the column
Cooking 101 is a bimonthly column exclusive to The Star designed to introduce home cooks to basic cooking techniques. The recipe, food styling and photography are a joint project between culinary students and instructors at Johnson County Community College’s Hospitality Management Program.
Beer-Braised Lamb Shanks With Saffron Rice
Makes 4 servings
4 lamb shanks
2 cups blended oil, a mix of equal parts olive oil and canola oil (for high heat)
2 cups diced onion
1 cup diced carrot
1 cup sliced celery
1 cup diced parsnip
1 chipotle pepper in adobo (available in cans at well-stocked grocery stores)
1 tablespoon minced garlic
3 cups India pale ale
1 teaspoon ground cardamom
2 tablespoons chopped parsley
1 tablespoon chopped fresh thyme
4 cups beef broth
1 tablespoon chopped mint
2 cups rice
1/4 cup blended oil
4 cups water
2 tablespoons butter
1 gram saffron
1 tablespoon turmeric
For the lamb: Preheat oven to 300 degrees. In a skillet on the stovetop, sear shanks in blended oil and then reserve in a 9- by 13-inch ovenproof pan that can be covered tightly with a lid or foil.
In a large saucepan over moderate heat, sauté onions, carrots, celery, parsnip, chipotle pepper and garlic until onions are translucent. Add beer, cardamom, parsley and thyme, and cook 10 minutes to reduce. Add broth and bring to a simmer.
Cover the lamb shanks with beer braising liquid. Place tightly covered pan in oven at 300 degrees for 2 1/2 hours.
When shanks are fork tender, remove and pour liquid through a fine mesh strainer into a small saucepot. Reduce sauce by cooking over low-to-medium heat. While cooking, skim the top of the sauce to remove all fat. The sauce should be reduced to nappe (meaning to coat the back of a spoon or ladle), which will take about 25 minutes.
For the rice: In a saucepan over medium heat, toast the rice in oil, about 2 minutes; allow oil to coat rice but do not allow it to brown. Add water, butter, saffron and turmeric. Cover and simmer 10 minutes.
Serve lamb and sauce over the rice.
Per serving: 1,089 calories (54 percent from fat), 62 grams total fat (15 grams saturated), 79 milligrams cholesterol, 91 grams carbohydrates, 28 grams protein, 234 milligrams sodium, 5 grams dietary fiber.