Easter Lamb: California-Bistro Style  Recipe
Easter Lamb: California-Bistro Style

By Diane Rossen Worthington

If you're planning on serving lamb this Easter, why not try something a bit different from the standard leg roast?

Lamb shanks, with their rich flavor and make-ahead feature, never seem to go out of style. This California bistro-style lamb shank dish is perfect for a dinner party as well.

These tender morsels require slow braising in a zesty, fruity California Zinfandel.

The addition of sweet California prunes (sometimes now called dried plums) add a slightly sweet counterpoint. Use a full-bodied Zinfandel for best flavor.

This is best prepared up to two days ahead, covered and refrigerated. Remove the layer of fat before reheating. Serve these with mashed potatoes flavored with white horseradish cream and your favorite roasted seasonal vegetables.

Braised Lamb Shanks with Zinfandel and Prunes

Serves 6

6 (3/4-1 pound) lamb shanks

All-purpose flour for dusting

Salt and freshly ground black pepper

1/4 cup olive oil

2 medium carrots, peeled and finely chopped

1 medium onion, finely chopped

1 celery rib, finely chopped

2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh thyme

4 garlic cloves, minced

1 1/2 cups chicken stock

2 cups dry full-bodied Zinfandel

1 (9-ounce) container moist packaged prunes, cut into bite size pieces

1 cup canned crushed tomatoes

3 tablespoons tomato paste

2 tablespoons parsley, for garnish

1. Preheat the oven to 325 F. Dredge the lamb lightly with the flour and season it with salt and pepper. Heat 2 tablespoons of oil in a large Dutch oven on medium-high heat. Add the lamb, in two batches, and brown on all sides, about 8 minutes per batch. Transfer to a large roasting pan.

2. Reduce the heat and add the remaining olive oil to the Dutch oven. Add the carrots, onion, celery and thyme, and saute for about 6-8 minutes or until the vegetables are tender, stirring occasionally. Add the garlic and cook another minute.

3. Stir in the stock, wine, the prunes, crushed tomatoes and tomato paste. Bring to a simmer. Pour sauce over the lamb in the roasting pan. Cover tightly with foil and place in oven. Cook the lamb until the meat is very tender and beginning to fall off the bones, about 2 hours. (Adjust the cooking time for larger or smaller lamb shanks).

4. Transfer the lamb to a platter and tent it with foil to keep warm. Pour the pan juices into a saucepan and bring to a simmer. Reduce the sauce by 1/2 to make a thick, sauce-like consistency, about 20 minutes on medium-high heat. Taste for seasoning.

5. Pour the sauce over the lamb. Garnish with parsley and serve immediately.

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Recipes: "Easter Lamb: California-Bistro Style "

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