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Braised Lamb Shanks: The Return of the Trotters

May 26, 1999|MARION CUNNINGHAM

Smart cooks know how to get the most out of everything they do. This is a meal with a bonus. Not only do you get lamb shanks for one dinner, but you also get leftovers that can, with minimum effort, be turned into a hearty dish of lentils for another dinner.

* People are sometimes confused about zest. It's the colored outside part of the citrus rind. It is the most flavorful part of the fruit, and it gives food a lovely fragrance and flavor. When removing the zest, it is important to remove only the bright, shiny, thin outer part of the peel, leaving behind the white bitter part of the skin (called the pith). You can use a zester, a fine grater, a vegetable peeler or a sharp paring knife to remove the zest.

* To cook the lentils for the second meal, put a pound of lentils in a large saucepan, add 2 quarts of water and 1 tablespoon of salt. Bring the lentils to a boil, then reduce the heat to low so the water is barely bubbling. Cook for 30 minutes, then scoop up a few lentils with a spoon and taste. If the lentils are tender, they are done.

Drain the lentils, put them back into the saucepan and add the leftover lamb and any pieces of vegetables that are left over. Heat the lamb and lentils through, stirring constantly, cooking about 5 minutes. If you like onion, a little finely chopped raw onion added just before serving is very nice.

*

Braised Lamb Shanks

Active Work Time: 25 Minutes * Total Preparation Time: 1 hour 45 minutes

2 lemons

4 cloves garlic

4 lamb shanks, about 3 to 4 pounds

1/4 cup flour

1 1/2 teaspoons salt

1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

3 tablespoons oil

1 bay leaf

2 cups water

6 carrots

3 onions

4 small boiling potatoes

* Grate zest of 1 or 2 lemons to make 1 tablespoon. After removing zest, cut lemons in half and squeeze juice to make about 1/4 cup.

* Slice garlic cloves lengthwise to make 4 slivers. Using sharp paring knife, cut 4 deep slits in meaty part of each lamb shank and insert garlic sliver into each slit.

* Combine flour, salt and pepper on 12-inch piece of wax paper and stir together. Spread flour out a little and roll each shank in flour so all sides are coated. Shake off excess.

* Heat oil in large, heavy-bottomed pot (one with lid) over medium-high heat. After about 15 seconds, hold your hand about an inch above bottom of pot. If it feels hot, add shanks and brown on all sides, keeping heat at medium-high. This should take about 5 to 10 minutes.

* When shanks are browned, reduce heat to low. Add bay leaf, lemon zest, lemon juice and 1 cup water to pot. Cover tightly and simmer shanks over low heat 1 hour.

* While shanks are cooking, cut carrots crosswise into 1 1/2-inch pieces. Cut onions into quarters. After shanks have cooked 1 hour, add carrots, onions and potatoes and remaining 1 cup water to pot and cook, covered, 30 minutes.

* Remove lid and pierce vegetables with fork. They will be tender when done. Shanks should also be very tender. Put shanks on platter and surround with vegetables. Serve hot.

4 servings. Each serving: 389 calories; 976 mg sodium; 46 mg cholesterol; 20 grams fat; 40 grams carbohydrates; 17 grams protein; 2.15 grams fiber.

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