I am a huge lamb fan, and I came up with this little recipe over the 4th of July weekend.
2 large bone in shanks
2 large lemons
two VERY ripe tomatoes
salt and pepper to taste
fresh chicken or beef stock
I generally like to braise with a red wine based sauce, but in my old age, and through a recent push to start living much healthier, I've completely given up all alcohol consumption (I know it cooks out, but there is always the two glasses for the cook, two for the food thing going on in the kitchen).
For this guy, I used a nice ceramic dish, but at home I usually use cast iron. In went about two cups of stock, half a cup of olive oil, and the juice of two lemons. Several sprigs of stripped and chopped oregano, a very little bit of rosemary, and one bay leaf, the two tomatoes were coarsely diced, and added at the very start so that they completely disintegrated into the stock, salt and pepper liberally. I set the oven to 275 - 300 and cooked for about 5 hours. Some people like to dredge meat in flour and brown it in fat, I just go straight into the oven with it.
I like the longer cook time, at a slightly lower temperature, with continuous turning and basting of the meat.
When I am satisfied with the tenderness of the meat, I pull the shanks out of the stock, and use a honesuki or in this case my 120mm kajiwara petty to get every morsel of meat off the bones. At this time, I thinly slice several figs, and chiffonade the mint, tossing both in with the bite sized morsels of lamb, and spooning 10-15 tbs of the reduced braising liquid over top. The sweetness of the figs and freshness of the mint work very nicely with the strength of the lamb protein. I served this with cabbage cooked in a mirepoix, butter, and chicken stock. But potatoes are always great with a strongly flavored red meat. When I tasted the braising liquid several hours into cooking, I thought it was too sharp, and acidic, but in the end the earthiness of the meat, the sweetness of the figs, and the mint brought it into a nice balance.
Worked out well, and fed three, along with several nice airy telera rolls, slathered in a compound butter of garlic and oregano. I started out with a nice salad as well. Several hours prior to service, I diced a few tomatoes, sliced a cucumber, kalamata olives, and spring onion, marinated with olive oil and a little bit of lemon juice, and oregano. Tossed this in with the salad, and a simple vinaigrette, and feta cheese. Salad was romaine and arugula or "rocket" if you wanna be all trendy. Always salt and pepper.
as a cool "dessert" I thinly sliced figs, arranged them in a nice flower, and put a big chunk of sweet goat cheese in the center, sort of curled the flower up along the sides to hold the crumbly goat cheese inside, and topped with the small mint leaves at the bottoms of the sprigs. These were delicious.