Braised Lamb Shanks (Kokkinisto me Manestra)
Recipe courtesy of Kokkari
Lamb is a staple in any Greek household and this recipe will make you fall in love if you aren’t already. You can make this a day ahead which helps the spices mellow and flavors improve. It’s a very hearty dish perfect for a night when you’re craving comfort food and something to warm your tummy.
- 1 tablespoon each ground allspice, ground toasted cumin, ground nutmeg, Spanish smoked sweet paprika and garlic powder
- 1 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
- 6 lambs shanks, 1 1/2 pounds each
- Sea salt and freshly ground pepper
- 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
- 2 onions, coarsely chopped
- 1 whole garlic bulb, cut across stem end to expose cloves
- 1 1/2 cups dry red wine
- 1/2 cup Italian tomato paste
- 8 bay leaves
- 6-inch sprig fresh rosemary
- 8 sprigs fresh thyme
- 1 1/2 cups orzo pasta
- Chunk of myzithra or ricotta salata cheese for serving
In a small bowl, combine the spice mix ingredients. Rub the shanks all over with the spice mix, coating them evenly. (You can cover and refrigerate them for up to 24 hours.) Preheat the oven to 350ªF. Season the shanks well with salt and pepper. In a large pot, heat the olive oil over high heat. Working in batches, sear the shanks on all sides until well browned, about 5 minutes per shank. Transfer to a platter.
Reduce the heat to medium, add the onions and garlic, and sauté until the onions are translucent, about 3 minutes. Add the wine and stir to scrape up any browned bits. Raise the heat to high and cook for 1 to 2 minutes. Stir in the tomato paste and herbs.
Return the shanks to the pot, meaty end down. They will fit snuggly. Add water to come halfway up the sides of the shanks. Bring to a simmer and stir in 2 teaspoons salt and several grinds of pepper. Cover tightly and bake until the meat is fork-tender and pulls away from the bone, about 2 1/2 hours. Let cool in the pot, then refrigerate overnight if desired.
Skim all surface fat. If refrigerated, reheat the shanks over medium heat. Discard the bay leaves and herb sprigs. Remove the garlic, and when it is cool enough to handle, squeeze the cloves back into the post. Set aside and keep the shanks warm.
In a large pot of salted boiling water, cook the orzo until al dente, according to package directions. Drain and return to the same pot. Add about 1 1/2 cups of broth from the lamb shanks and stir well. Divide the orzo among 6 shallow bowls. Top each portion with a lamb shank, then spoon some of the juices over the lamb. On the large holes of a box grater, grate myzithra to taste over the lamb and orzo.