February 18, 2013 by caitlinvaclark
We had another insanely good dinner at Tom’s Kitchen last night. I’ve written before about how much I love this restaurant and in particular the seven hour confit shoulder of lamb. So clearly a dinner at Tom’s was a must for my friend, Dena’s, visit. At the last minute, Chris had to drop out due to stupid work on a Sunday night!? So after some deep debating we decided that even though the lamb is “for two” (and to die for), it was a bit too much of a commitment for us. We wanted to try more things, and the lamb is a huge plate of food in and of itself. So we skipped the lamb and went for some braised oxtail over lentils and grilled onions. So good. We also ordered classic fish and chips that was beyond perfect. Added a side of rocket and parmesan for some veg. Oh and a side of mac and cheese. And okay, full disclosure, also some sticky toffee pudding.
So our night was going pretty famously. But here’s where it gets even better. About ten minutes after we placed our order, reassuring ourselves that we made the right call skipping the lamb, a group of four was seated next to us at the communal table. As they oohed and ahhed over the menu, I found myself fighting the urge to interject. I’m usually not so brazen. Communal tables work best when people respect the privacy of their fellow diners. But not last night. I couldn’t resist…
“I don’t usually do this but if you are thinking at all about the lamb, it is seriously the best dish ever. My husband cried the first time we had it.”
This pay-it-forward maneuver ended up coming back to us, as our friendly dining neighbors actually hooked my friend up with a bite of the lamb confit so she was able to experience the succulent, rich, amazing meat without committing to the entire massive dish. Yes, that’s right, we shared food with strangers last night. Don’t judge.
Now let’s go back a few days… Our other reason for skipping the lamb at Tom’s (this time) was we’d actually made our own version of ridiculously slow roasted lamb shanks last week for Valentine’s Day dinner. This dish is so simple and as long as you give yourself a few hours it is so incredibly rewarding. It is a perfect Sunday roast, great for a special occasion or a comforting dinner any night of the week. This was such a special meal for my favorite husband and favorite houseguest!
Get a great brown sear on each of the lamb shanks.
Each addition – the onions, garlic, thyme, oregano, and the pastes – adds a layer of flavor that seeps into the meat, and the meat juices back into the sauce.
Uncover the meat for the second hour of cooking so that the braising liquid cooks down a bit and becomes a rich sauce for the meat.
You’ll know the lamb is ready when the sauce is dark and rich and the meat is literally falling off the bone.
We served our lamb with a butternut squash salad and some roasted potatoes. But they would be amazing over some creamy polenta or mashed potatoes to soak up the sauce.
Rich Tomato Braised Lamb Shanks
1 Tbs olive oil
4 lamb shanks
1 onion, diced
4 garlic cloves, roughly chopped
1 Tbs tomato paste
1 Tbs beef soup starter
4 sprigs fresh thyme
2 bay leaves
2 tsp dried oregano
2 cups red wine
1-15 oz. can chopped tomatoes
1/2 cup water
Salt and pepper
Preheat oven to 325˚F.
Heat olive oil in a large Dutch oven over medium heat. Season the lamb shanks with salt and pepper and brown on all sides, about 4 minutes per side. Remove from the pot and reserve.
Add the onions and garlic and sauté until soft, 5 minutes. Mix in the tomato paste, soup starter, oregano, thyme, and bay leaf. Deglaze pan with wine. Then add the chopped tomato and 1/2 cup of water (measure into the tomato can and then add so that you get all the juices from the can). Bring to a simmer.
Add the lamb and any juices back to the pot. Cover and put in the oven for 1 hour. Remove lid, turn the shanks, and continue to cook for another hour, until the lamb is falling off the bone.
Serve a shank covered with the sauce.