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From The Cook's Book of Intense Flavors by Robert and Molly Krause: The versatile sweet tomato makes a great base for anise-flavored fennel and tangy mustard. Plus, you can employ many different cooking techniques to both the tomato and fennel. Use them both raw for a fresh salad with a Dijon fennel seed vinaigrette. Roast the tomato and fennel and season them with mustard seed for a brothy soup. Puree all three ingredients for a creamy soup. Or go the route of the application recipe and season a braised lamb dish with this ingredient combo. These flavors are well suited to fish, chicken, beef, or lamb. This dish needs several hours in the oven so start early if you plan to eat it the same day you cook it. Serve these shanks in a shallow bowl with something such as polenta to absorb the delicious braising liquid.
- 4 1⁄2 lbs lamb shanks, trimmed
- salt and pepper
- 1⁄2 cup flour, all purpose
- 6 tablespoons olive oil, divided
- 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
- 1 cup dry red wine, such as cab sav
- 1⁄4 cup whole grain mustard
- 2 onions, yellow sliced into 1/4 in. wedges
- 1 leek, sliced in half lengthwise and cut into 1/4 in. pieces (don't use dark green part)
- 4 garlic cloves, chopped
- 1⁄2 cup Pernod (or other anise liqueur)
- 2 cups chicken stock
- 1 (28 ounce) can whole tomatoes, drained
- 2 tablespoons tomato paste
- 1 tablespoon thyme leaves
- 2 bay leaves
- 2 bulbs fennel, cut into 1/4 in slices
- Preheat oven to 375.
- Season all sides of the lamb shanks with salt and pepper and then dredge in flour to coat.
- In a large skillet, heat 1/4 c of olive oil and the butter over medium high heat. Sear the lamb until brown, turning to cook all sides. Transfer shanks to a roasting pan.
- In the skillet, spoon out all but a couple of spoonfuls of fat. Over medium heat, deglaze the pan with the red wine, stirring to remove the stuck scraps. Whisk in the mustard and cook for 2 minutes. Coat the lamb shanks with the red wine-mustard mixture and set aside.
- In a large, clean skillet, heat the remaining 2 T of olive oil over medium heat. Add the onions and leek and cook until tender, 5 minutes. Add garlic and cook for an additional 2 minutes.
- Add the Pernod and increase the heat to medium-high, cooking for 2 minutes. Add the chicken stock, tomatoes, tomato paste, thyme, and bay leaves; stir to incorporate the tomato paste. Add the sliced fennel to the roasting pan with the lamb. Pour the skillet's contents over the lamb and fennel and cover with aluminum foil.
- Braise for 2 1/2 bours. Skim any fat off the surface of the liquid. Serve braised shanks with vegetables and cooking broth.