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Braised Lamb Shanks with Eggplant

Yield: dinner for 4, or for 2 with delicious leftovers!

  • 3-4 lamb shanks, split (about 4 lbs., size of shanks vary)
  • salt & pepper
  • 1 Tbs. grape seed oil
  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 8 cloves garlic (about 2 Tbs.), chopped
  • ½ lb. crimini or white mushrooms, quartered if large
  • 1 Asian long purple eggplant (about 1 lb.), coarsely diced (remove the stem)
  • 12 Kalamata olives (pitted)
  • 1 sprig fresh rosemary
  • 2 bay leaves
  • ¾ cup red wine  (I used a Shiraz)
  • 1 cup tomato puree
  • A pressure cooker, or follow alternate instructions at the end

Season the lamb quite well with salt and pepper, and brown the pieces over medium-high heat in a heavy frying pan with the grape seed oil in it. Get all sides nice and brown, about 12 minutes.

While the lamb is cooking, chop the onion and place either in a pressure cooker on “saute setting” with no oil. Season lightly with salt and pepper.

Once the onions are softened, add the garlic, mushrooms and diced eggplant and continue cooking in the pressure cooker; add the pitted olives, the sprig of rosemary and the bay leaves; place the browned lamb on top.

Deglaze the lamb pan with the wine. Let it cook down for a couple of minutes (it will reduce quickly). Add the tomato and 1 cup of water. Bring to a boil. Pour over the lamb, cover and set the cooker on “high” to 45 minutes. The eggplant will dissolve into a sauce, and the dish will be cooked to the point where it is totally tender and ready to fall off the bone. Serve over soft polenta, mashed potatoes, or just on its own.

Alternate cooking instructions:

Preheat oven to 350°F. Brown the meat as above. Saute the onions in a sauteuse pan large enough to hold all the ingredients, in an extra tablespoon oil. Add the remaining vegetables and ingredients, add the lamb and deglazing liquid, cover and braise for at least 1 ½ hours, maybe 2, until tender.

Note: If you have time, make this dish a day in advance. The flavors will be even better when it's reheated.