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Article updated: 3/20/2013 12:53 PM

Braised Lamb Shanks

1 large head garlic

cup extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for drizzling (see note)

1 teaspoons salt

Freshly ground black pepper

6 lamb shanks (meatier, foreshanks preferred)

2 medium carrots, chopped

1 onion, chopped

2 ribs celery, chopped

1/3 cup tomato paste

3 cups red wine (see note)

4 cups chicken stock

2 cups water

3 sprigs fresh thyme

2 cups mixed diced root vegetables, such as celery root, turnips and carrots

Remove 4 cloves garlic from the head and set aside. Slice off the pointy end of the head to expose a bit of garlic flesh. Place the garlic head, root down, on a small square of aluminum foil, drizzle with oil and wrap. Set aside.

Heat cup oil in a large skillet over medium-high. Sprinkle lamb with salt and pepper. Transfer to the skillet and cook until golden brown on all sides, 6-8 minutes total. Remove shanks from the pan and set aside on a platter lined with paper towels. In the same skillet, cook the chopped carrots, onion and celery until slightly brown, about 5 minutes.

Heat oven to 325 degrees.

Peel and crush the 4 reserved garlic cloves and add to vegetables in the skillet; stir in tomato paste and cook 2 minutes. Lower heat to medium, add wine and cook until liquid is reduced by half, about 10 minutes. Taste the mixture and add salt or pepper if needed. Place shanks in a Dutch oven or casserole large enough to hold them with room to spare. Pour the vegetable and wine mixture over them; add stock, water and thyme. Cover and bake until the meat pulls away from the bone, 1 to 2 hours.

While meat is cooking, put the wrapped head of garlic in the oven. Bake until cloves are soft and caramelized, about 45 minutes. Set aside.

When lamb is done, transfer to a warm platter and cover with foil to keep warm. Strain the liquid (the "jus") through a mesh strainer into a saucepan and discard solids. Wash and dry the Dutch oven or casserole and return the shanks to it; keep warm. Squeeze roasted garlic into liquid in the saucepan; add diced root vegetables. Heat over medium until simmering, lower heat to medium-low and simmer until vegetables are soft, about 10 minutes. Pour liquid and vegetables over the shanks and serve.

Serves six.

Cook's notes: If "kosher for Passover" restrictions are not in play, you can substitute canola oil for the olive oil and dredge the lamb shanks in 2 cups all-purpose flour before browning them. Cabernet Sauvignon would be a delicious choice for the wine.

"The New Jewish Table" by Todd Gray and Ellen Kassoff Gray (St. Martin's Press, 2013)

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