Lamb Shanks with White Beans
Adapted from Essential Pepin
8 oz (about 1½ cups) dried small white or Great Northern beans, picked over and rinsed
5 cups water
4 bone-in lamb shanks (about 14 oz each)
4 carrots, peeled and cut into ½-inch pieces (We love carrots. The original recipe calls for 1, so if you are not a carrot fan just add 1 for the flavor.)
1 large onion, cut into 1-inch pieces
5-6 garlic cloves, crushed and coarsely chopped
3 bay leaves
1 tsp dried thyme
1½ tsp salt
Freshly ground pepper
Put the beans in a bowl and soak in the water while you brown the lamb shanks. (Although Jacques suggests soaking the beans for a few minutes, I always soak overnight.)
Remove most of the visible fat from the shanks and season all over with salt and pepper. Put the shanks in one layer in a large heavy pot, preferable cast iron, and brown uncovered for about 20 minutes, turning occasionally, until browned on all sides. Transfer to a plate and discard any fat rendered by the meat, leaving only a solidified glaze in the pot.
Add the beans and water to the pot, along with the meat and all the remaining ingredients except the Tabasco. Bring to a boil, skim off the foam, then reduce the heat to low, cover, and boil gently for 2 hours. (I let it cook nearly 4 hours, just until my husband started shouting that he was starving to death.) The meat should be moist and tender and there should be just enough liquid remaining in the pot for a moist, thick stew. If there is substantially more liquid than this, boil the stew, uncovered, for a few minutes to reduce it. Conversely, if there is too little liquid remaining, add a few tablespoons of water.
Serve 1 lamb shank per person, with a few generous spoonfuls of stew. Pass the Tabasco sauce and crusty bread.
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