Easter Dinner

There is a running argument in my house about what should be served for Easter dinner. My wife thinks it should be ham, and I think it should be lamb. To me, ham is an everyday kind of food and not suitable for special occasions unless you can’t cook or don’t have time to prepare a meal for a large group. I have a feeling she will win this year, but if not, this is what I am fixing. Lamb braised with wine (Osso Bucco) for Easter Dinner. Deep, rich flavor and fall off the bone tenderness make this dish irresistible. This is not the traditional style recipe, but it is what most folks think of these days.

Osso BuccoI usually don’t list ingredients (and sometimes amounts) because I assume that most readers of this blog know their way around the kitchen pretty well. In this case I am to make it easier to adjust the quantity. This recipe should feed 6-8 people, depending on the sides served with is.

4 lamb shanks
1 medium onion, rough chopped
1 medium carrot, rough chopped
2 celery stalks, rough chopped
3 tbsp garlic confit (or six sliced cloves of raw garlic)
1 tbsp Herbes de Provence
4 cups of red wine
3-4 cups beef stock
3 tbsp tomato paste

Heat a heavy casserole or dutch oven over medium high heat. Generously season the lamb shanks with salt and pepper. Add some olive oil to your hot pan and brown the shanks well. Make sure and get all spots seared. Remove and set aside.

Add the carrots, onions and celery to the pan and lower heat to medium. season with salt and pepper. Stir often and cook just until the onions show some color. Add the tomato paste, herbs and the garlic and keep stirring for about 2 minutes taking care that nothing burns.

Deglaze with the red wine, scraping the bottom to make sure that you get all of the goodies hiding down there. Simmer until reduced by half, then add the shanks and enough beef stock to cover a little more than half of each shank. Cook for 3 hours, turning the shanks over halfway through the cooking process.

Pair this with a Cabernet, Zinfandel, Tempranillo, Shiraz, Nebbiolo or even a Petite Sirah. A nice Rioja would work well, too. Anything with a little sweetness to match with the tomato in the sauce and enough tannins to pair with the fat in the lamb. I would suggest using the same varietal in both the sauce and in your glass.

[UPDATE] I appear to have won the debate, or at least control of the menu (it helps that I will be doing all of the cooking). Although my regular butcher didn’t have any lamb shanks, and neither of the closest supermarkets had any, I did find some this afternoon. Lamb shanks, polenta and asparagus sounds like a proper Easter feast to me.

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