Other Names: Foreshank, garrón or chambarete (Spanish), giaretto or stinco (Italian), gîte de derrière (French, hindshank), gîte de devant (French, foreshank), hindshank, trotter (usually foreshank).
General Description: A whole braised lamb shank on the bone makes a dramatic presentation using a cut that is full of rich, flavorful meat. Shanks are fairly lean, and if braised slowly, the meat pulls apart into delicious, juicy strands. The meat can easily be cubed for stews or ground. Lamb shanks cut into cross sections, exposing the marrow within, can be used instead of veal for the dish osso buco. Lamb shanks from imported lamb will be about half the size of American shanks. Lamb hindshanks (NAMP 233F) are large and meaty, though they take some time to cook. Lamb foreshanks (NAMP 210) are small and delicate in flavor, and they cook quickly.
Part of Animal: Lamb shanks may come from the lower portion of the arm (the front leg) or the rear leg.
Characteristics: Braised lamb shanks have dense, highly flavored meat with a creamy, rich texture.
How to Choose: Choose imported rear leg lamb shanks or American foreshanks for moderate size and mild flavor; choose American rear leg shanks for more pronounced flavor. Rear leg shanks with part of the leg above the knee joint attached may be found; called a “volcano” shank, these make a dramatic cavemanlike presentation, but they may not be as tender as smaller shanks.
Amount to Buy: A lamb shank may weigh from 1/2 pound to more than 1 pound. Allow one shank per person. Your local market may have only one or two shanks available at a time; buy them as you find them and keep frozen till you accumulate enough.
Storage: Lamb shanks keep well frozen for up to 3 months. Defrost in the refrigerator overnight. Refrigerate fresh lamb shanks up to 4 days.
- Tie shanks with butcher’s string to insure they stay whole, then season and brown shanks well on all sides in oil in a Dutch oven. Remove and keep warm.
- Drain and discard most of the fat from the pan. Add aromatic vegetables, then pour in broth and/or wine.
- Place the shanks back into the pot and bring to a boil. Cover and braise in the oven for about 2 hours at low temperature (300°F), turning once, until the shanks are tender but still whole.
- Remove the shanks from the oven; allow them to cool so they don’t fall apart before handling. Cut off the strings, cool completely, and chill overnight.
- Remove the fat and reheat in the braising liquid.
Flavor Affinities: Beer, chile peppers, coriander, curry, figs, garlic, ginger, honey, onions, oranges, red wine, tomatoes.
from Quirk Books: www.quirkbooks.com