This absolutely delicious saba braised lamb shanks recipe will hopefully serve two very important purposes. First, to expose anyone currently unexposed to the wonderful world of saba (seriously, Google it). This thick, sweet, syrupy substance is basically cooked-down wine must (grape juice plus seeds, skins, and stems). It’s very similar to aged balsamic vinegar, and although I’ve only recently discovered it, I consider it a “must” have.
The second part of the mission is to reinforce an old rule of thumb for braising meats, which goes something like, “Don’t stop cooking until it’s tender and awesome!!” Sounds simple, right? Yet, I get emails all the time saying my short rib, pot roast, or lamb shank recipes didn’t work because “the meat wasn’t tender.” Sorry, but that’s all you, Chef Took-it-out-because-the-timer-rang.
The only reason tough cuts of meat, like these lamb shanks, don’t get tender enough, is because people go by time instead of common-sense testing. In the video I say to roast, covered, at 200 F. for about 2 1/2 to 3 hours, before starting the final glazing step, but that’s just a guess. I don’t want you to stop when the timer rings, but only when the point of a knife goes into the meat easily.
Remember, a lamb shank cooked 30 minutes too long is still a succulent and delicious thing. The same cut cooked 30 minutes shy? A chewy disappointment. Not to mention all that dental floss you’re going to waste. So, now that there’s no way your lamb isn’t going to come out all moist and tender, the only thing left to do is find yourself some saba, and give this great winter dish a try soon. Enjoy!
Ingredients for 4 portions:
(I used a 9×12-inch dish)
4 lamb shanks
2 tbsp olive oil
2 tsp kosher salt
1 tsp freshly ground black pepper
1 tsp smoked paprika
1 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp dried rosemary
1 large onion, sliced
6 cloves garlic, peeled, slightly crushed
1/3 cup saba or aged balsamic vinegar
1/2 tsp freshly chopped rosemary to finish sauce
– Roast 30 min at 450 F. uncovered
– Add liquid and roast covered at 200 F. about 3 hours, or until knife tender
– Uncover, roast at 350 about 20-30 minutes, or until very tender and glazed. Turn in sauce several times during this final step.
– Strain and reduce sauce
*Note: 3 hour braising time will vary depending on size of shanks.
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