Lamb Shanks With White Beans

I think of this as one of Pepin's "transition" dishes. The lamb and white beans make it classically French, its use of water instead of stock, wine or tomatoes makes it spare like the country cooking he grew up with. And the Tabasco .... how much more American does it get? The recipe is adapted from The Essential Pepin, by Jacques Pepin (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt 2011).

Lamb shanks with white beans i i
Michele Kayal/for NPR
Lamb shanks with white beans
Michele Kayal/for NPR

Makes 4 servings

8 ounces (1 1/2 cups) dried small white beans or Great Northern beans, picked over and rinsed

5 cups water

4 bone-in lamb shanks (about 14 ounces each)

1 carrot (4 ounces) peeled and cut into 1/2-inch pieces (3/4 cup)

1 large onion, cut into 1-inch pieces (1 1/2 cups)

5 to 6 garlic cloves, crushed and coarsely chopped (1 1/2 tablespoons)

3 bay leaves

1 teaspoon dried thyme

1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt

Tabasco sauce

Put the beans in a bowl and soak in the water while you brown the lamb shanks.

Remove most of the visible fat from the shanks. Put them in one layer in a large heavy pot, preferably cast iron, and brown them, uncovered, over medium-high heat for about 30 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. 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.

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