LAMB SHANKS BRAISED IN COFFEE WITH KIDNEY BEANS (“red eye” lamb shanks, for six)
6 lamb shanks, about 1 pound each
3 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 pound dried kidney beans (about 2-¼ cups) picked over
1 large onion, chopped fine
1 red bell pepper, chopped fine
1 large carrot, cut into ¼ inch dice
4 garlic cloves, chopped
2 slices bacon, chopped
4 cups water, plus 2 cups additional if not using coffee
2 cups brewed coffee if desired
a bouquet garni composed of 5 fresh parsley sprigs, 3 fresh thyme sprigs, and 2 fresh rosemary sprigs, tied
2 bay leaves
½ teaspoon dried hot red pepper flakes
1. Preheat the oven to 300*.
2. Pat lamb shanks dry and season with salt. In a heavy ovenproof kettle large enough to hold shanks tightly in one layer, heat oil over moderate heat until hot but not smoking and brown shanks in 2 batches, transferring to a plate. Add beans to kettle and top with shanks. Add remaining ingredients and bring to a boil over high heat, without stirring. Braise shank mixture, covered, in middle of oven 3 hours, or until lamb and beans are very tender.
3. Alternatively, brown shanks in a large, heavy skillet in same manner, transferring to a 17 by 11 inch roasting pan. Put beans around shanks and scatter mixture with vegetables and bacon. In a saucepan bring 4 cups of water and coffee to a boil. Deglaze skillet with about 1 cup coffee mixture, scraping up brown bits, and add to shank mixture with remaining coffee mixture and remaining ingredients. Cover pan with foil and braise in same manner. (Shank mixture may be prepared to this point 2 days ahead, cooled, uncovered, and chilled, covered. Reheat shanks mixture in middle of a preheated 350* oven, covered, 30 minutes, or until heated through, before proceeding.)
4. Transfer shanks with a slotted spoon to a heated platter, discarding bouquet garni and bay leaves, and bring braising liquid to a boil. (If using roasting pan, pour braising liquid into a large saucepan and bring to a boil.) Boil braising liquid until thickened slightly, about 5 minutes, and pour over shanks and beans.