"Top Chef" fan favorite and executive chef of the 1 Hotel West Hollywood, Chris Crary, serves up a dinner party-ready recipe for wine-braised lamb shanks over farro flavored with mint and fragrant spices.
- 1 cinnamon stick
- 3 cloves
- 1 tablespoon coriander seeds
- 5 cardamom pods
- 5 star anise
- 1 tablespoon black peppercorn
- 4 lamb shanks
- ¼ cup vegetable oil, divided
- Salt and pepper
- 6 carrots, coarsely chopped
- 6 stalks celery, coarsely chopped
- 1 large white onion, coarsely chopped
- 6 cloves garlic, chopped
- 4 shallots, halved
- 2 cups marsala wine
- 2 cups white wine
- 4 cups orange juice
- 1 bunch mint
- 1 cup farro
- 4 cups vegetable broth or stock
- 1 peach or plum, pitted and sliced
- ¼ cup pine nuts, toasted
For the spice rub, toast the spices in a pan over medium heat until warm and fragrant, then set aside to cool. Once cool, transfer to a blender or coffee grinder and process into a powder. Mix in salt to taste with the spice rub and apply to the lamb shank.
For the lamb shanks, preheat oven to 300˚F. Coat the lamb shanks with the spice rub and let sit for a few minutes.
In a large pan, heat 2 tablespoons vegetable oil over high heat. Season the lamb shanks with salt and pepper, then sear all over until golden brown, then transfer the lamb shanks to a large braising pan or deep baking dish. Pour off the excess oil from the pan, then add the vegetables and cook until softened. Add the cooked vegetables to the lamb, then add the marsala and white wine to the pan and bring to a boil. Add the orange juice and bring to a boil again. Add the liquid to the lamb, reserving the pan for later, then add enough water to fully submerge the lamb. Reserve 8 mint leaves for garnish, then top the lamb with the rest of the mint. Cover the dish with foil and braise in the oven for 3 hours.
Meanwhile, cook the farro: In a medium saucepan, toast the farro in the remaining 2 tablespoons vegetable oil over medium heat until lightly browned and fragrant. Add the vegetable stock and bring to a boil, then lower the heat and simmer for 30 minutes. Remove from the heat, cover with foil and let sit for 15 minutes.
After the lamb is cooked, strain the liquid from the braised lamb, and discard the vegetables (unless you would like to save the vegetables to eat). Transfer 2 cups braising liquid to the reserved pan and reduce by 75% to thicken. Add as much to the top of the lamb as you desire. You can use the same pan as you used to sauté the lamb shanks in.
To serve, place the farro in the bottom of a large serving bowl or platter and arrange the lamb shanks on top. Top with as much of the thickened braising liquid as desired. Slice the plum or peach and tear the reserved fresh mint leaves. Arrange the sliced fruit on top of the lamb and sprinkle with torn mint and the pine nuts.