LAMB SHANKS BRAISED IN WHITE WINE WITH GREEK EGG-LEMON SAUCE (avgolemono, for four)
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
4 lamb shanks
salt and black pepper to taste
2 large onions, cut into chunks
4 medium potatoes, peeled and cut into chunks
4 medium carrots, peeled and cut into chunks
1 celeriac, peeled and cubed
10 garlic cloves, slivered
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1 cup dry white wine
1 bunch fresh dill
1 cup beef or chicken stock, preferably homemade, or make lamb stock
avgolemono, preferably made with broth from the shanks (recipe follows)
- Put the oil in a large deep skillet or flameproof casserole with a lid and turn the heat to medium-high. Add the lamb, sprinkling the meat with salt and pepper as it browns (You may have to brown the meat in two batches – don’t crowd the meat into the skillet or it will steam, not brown). When the pieces are deeply browned, after at least 10 minutes, transfer to a plate. Pour or spoon off any excess fat.
- Add the vegetables and the oregano, along with some more salt and pepper and cook, stirring occasionally, until the potatoes soften (they should not be completely cooked), 15 to 20 minutes. Remove the vegetables with a slotted spoon and set aside.
- Add the wine and let the mixture bubble for about a minute. Remove about 1 cup of dill leaves and reserve; tie the dill stems with the remaining attached leaves into a bundle and add to the pot along with the stock. Return the lamb to the pot and cover. Adjust the heat so the mixture simmers steadily but not violently for 1 hour and 15 minutes.
- Return the vegetables to the pot and cook until the lamb and vegetables are tender (make sure the potatoes are done), about 25 minutes more (you can prepare the dish to this point and let it sit for a few hours or cover and refrigerate for up to a day before reheating and proceeding).
- When the lamb is nearly done, make the avgolemono. Turn the heat to low, then stir the sauce into the lamb and heat through; do not boil. Taste and adjust the seasoning and serve garnished with the reserved dill.
NOTE: If you do not want to make avgolemono, simply prepare the shanks as directed and finish them with the juice of a lemon, or more, to taste.
AVGOLEMONO (egg lemon sauce, about 1 cup)
4 egg yolks or 2 whole eggs (the sauce works equally well with whole eggs or yolks, but looks much prettier if you use the yolks)
¼ cup fresh lemon juice
1 cup warm chicken or other stock (preferably stock from the lamb shanks)
pinch of cayenne
salt and black pepper to taste
- Beat the egg yolks in a bowl until light and foamy (with an electric mixer, about 1 minute; by hand, 2 or 3). Slowly add the lemon juice, still beating. Gradually add the stock, still beating, followed by the cayenne.
- Transfer to a small saucepan and place over low heat. Cook, stirring, until the mixture thickens slightly (it will not be super-thick) and is hot, just a few minutes. Do not boil. Taste and adjust the seasoning, then use immediately.
adapted from Mark Bittman, The Best Recipes in the World
SERVE WITH: Sauteed watercress with garlic