LAMB SHANKS BRAISED IN YOGURT (for four)
1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
4 lamb shanks, each about 1 pound, trimmed of excess fat
salt and black pepper to taste
10 to 20 garlic cloves, peeled
2 large onions, roughly chopped
2 tablespoons cornstarch
1 quart yogurt
1 teaspoon minced garlic
chopped fresh dill or mint for garnish
- Put the olive oil in a large deep skillet or flameproof casserole with a lid and place over high heat. A minute later, add the lamb shanks and brown well, turning as necessary, at least 10 minutes. Sprinkle the meat with salt and pepper as it browns.
- When the meat is nicely browned, add the whole garlic cloves and cook for another couple of minutes; then add the onions, stir to distribute them evenly, turn the heat down to low, and cover. Cook gently, checking to see that the mixture does not dry out and adding water or stock about ½ cup at a time if it does. Cook until the lamb is quite tender, about 1-1/2 hours (it may take a little longer). The dish may be made to this point, cooled then covered and refrigerated. Skin off excess fat before reheating and proceeding.
- Thin the cornstarch with 2 tablespoons water and whisk it into the yogurt along with the minced garlic. Stir this mixture into the lamb and simmer, uncovered, for a few minutes. (The yogurt must be handled carefully to prevent curdling. Heat it slowly, and simmer at the lowest possible temperature. Claudia Roden (The New Book of Middle Eastern Food) recommends stirring it “in only one direction” and she reports that some Middle Eastern cooks caution against covering it because even a drop of condensed steam would “ruin the sauce”.) Taste and adjust for seasoning, then garnish and serve.
from Mark Bittman, The Best Recipes in the World