Braising Contest Winner #3:
Mary & Eliot's Three-Ring Lamb Shanks

Braising Contest Winner #3:
Mary & Eliot's Three-Ring Lamb Shanks

(This was a very spirited contest: we had dozens of entries from home chefs around the country who took to the stove and braised up a storm. Winners will each receive a Calphalon Dutch Oven and a copy of Braise by Daniel Boulud and Melissa Clark.)

What we loved about it: This is an original recipe developed by Mary's husband, Eliot. Mary is just getting back into meat after nineteen years as a vegetarian...

...and so we applaud their adventuresome spirit in the kitchen with ingredients (there's lamb's neck in there!). It is a wonderful classic-style dish, but written in a humorous way. Bravo!

Words From the Chef: The perfect spring lamb stew needs three pots, each one performing several roles, like a three-ring circus that never stops and has a delicious grand finale.

Mary & Eliot's Three-Ring Lamb Shanks
YIELD

1 bottle red wine
2-3 quarts lamb or beef stock
4 lamb shanks
2 hunks lamb's neck
4-6 thinly sliced lamb or beef bones
1/2 onion
2 carrots
2 stalks celery
1 bay leaf
4 cloves garlic
handful of peas
handful of wax beans
handful of green beans
handful of sun chokes
2 small turnips
1 celery root
olive oil
vinegar, if needed

The opening:

Ring One: In your large dutch oven, reduce one bottle of red wine by
half. Preheat your oven to 325.

Ring Two: In a large stockpot, boil a few quarts of stock. Lamb would
be great, but we used a light beef stock, and you couldn't tell the
difference.

Ring Three: Brown four lamb shanks, two hunks of lamb's neck, and some
beef (or lamb if you're lucky) bones in an awesome sauté pan.

The second act:

Ring One: Put your meat in the dutch oven with the wine, stock, one
halved onion, one carrot, one stalk of celery, a bay leaf, and three
smashed cloves of garlic. Bring it to a boil and put it in the oven,
covered, and check the time.

Ring Two: Wash your stockpot. Fill it 3/4 of the way with salted water
and bring it to a boil. Boil a handful of peas until half-done, a
handful of wax beans half-done, a handful of green beans until
half-done. Also boil two turnips, quartered and carved into
egg-shapes, all the way. Immediately after cooking, chill each of
these in ice water, dry them and put them aside for the grand finale.

Ring Three: Sauté a diced carrot, a diced stalk of celery, and a diced
celery root in olive oil with a smashed clove of garlic. When this is
done, simmer a handful of sun chokes in lightly salted water and
butter until they start to fall apart. Cook them until they are dry,
but not browned.

***Intermission: Ends after the lamb has been in the oven for 3 hours.***

The Finale:

Set the stage: Put the serving bowls in the oven to warm.

Ring One: When the lamb is done, pull the meat off the neck pieces,
and add them to the sauce (or keep them for yourself, they are the
best part); season the cooking liquid with salt and vinegar (if
needed); add your diced vegetables and turnips, and put the cover back
on.

Ring Two: Warm your sun chokes. (We used the microwave.)

Ring Three: Gently sauté the other vegetables in olive oil with a
smashed clove of garlic.

The Big Finish:

Take out the warm bowls. Make a base of sun choke, add a lamb shank
(be gentle) and a ladle of the cooking liquid (make sure each plate
gets some of the diced vegetables and turnips), add the other
vegetables on top, deliver to table and gloat.

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