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Lamb Shank and Dried Fruit Braise

From The Mediterranean Herb Cookbook

1 tablespoon unsalted butter
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
2 lamb shanks, 1-1/2 to 2 pounds total
1/2 yellow onion, minced
1 clove garlic, minced
1 fresh bay leaf or 1/2 dried bay leaf
1 teaspoon fresh thyme
4 dried apricot halves, chopped
2 dried pear halves, chopped (see note)
2 dried peach halves, chopped (see note)
6 prunes, pitted and chopped
1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon ground turmeric
2 dried arbol chiles or other small dried red chiles, seeded and crumbled (see note)
3/4 cup dry white wine
1-1/2 to 2 cups chicken broth

In a large skillet, melt the butter and the vegetable oil over medium heat. Add the shanks and sauté, turning once, until browned, 3 to 4 minutes on each side. Remove the shanks and set aside.


Discard all but 2 tablespoons of the fat from the pan. Return the skillet to medium heat and add the onion and garlic. Sauté for 1 to 2 minutes, then add the bay leaf, thyme and all the dried fruit. Sauté for 2 to 3 minutes, then sprinkle with the flour, turmeric and chiles. Stir for 1 to 2 minutes, then pour in the wine. Stir constantly for 2 to 3 minutes to dislodge any bits clinging to the bottom of the pan.

Add 1-1/2 cups of the chicken broth and return the shanks to the pan. Reduce the heat to low, cover, and simmer until the meat is tender and can be pulled away from the bone, 2 to 2-1/2 hours.

Stir occasionally while cooking, basting the shanks with the sauce. As the sauce thickens, the sugar in the fruit will cause it to stick to the pan, so you will need to stir more frequently. You may also need to add more broth to prevent scorching.

When the shanks are done, remove them from the pan and pull away or cut off the meat. Discard the bones. Skim the surface fat from the sauce. Return the meat to the sauce and cook over low heat just long enough to heat the meat through, 3 to 4 minutes. Serve immediately.

Yields 4 to 5 servings. Good served with rice to soak up the juices and garnished with slices of cucumber and tomato.

Notes: Dried pears and peaches are available in the dried fruit section of many supermarkets. If desired, substitute 3/4 cup raisins or a mixture of any other dried fruit.

When handling chiles, experts recommend wearing gloves and not touching your eyes.



(Updated: 10/22/08 SN)

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