Have you noticed my recent pizza addiction? Blame it on my love affair with fresh mozzarella, or the fact that I’ve blown through 22lbs of flour in the last week and a half. Either way you cut it, Sarah and I have been on a delicious journey and I don’t know when it’s going to end. From pizzas with almost no ingredients, to this, my first ever lamb shank pizza. Probably the longest and easily the most elaborate pizza recipe in recent memory. The strange thing is that I didn’t start out with this dish in mind. No, I simply wanted to braise some lamb shanks for supper.
Having a package of New Zealand lamb in the freezer for some time now (Sarah isn’t a fan by any stretch of the imagination) I finally decided that I’d make the best of it and just braise the three pack for my own indulging. Following a simple braise technique, I figured the next day I’d make some polenta for these too sit on. Then simmer the sauce until it’s thick, drizzle artistically over everything and bang, supper. The right curve came when I finished braising. The first sign of going askew is the above picture where you only notice two finished shanks. A few test samples soon turned into a fatty bedtime snack as I devoured the third portion. And the best part…Sarah went for it didn’t put up her usual lamb face. In hopes of using this turn of events in my favour, I threw out the idea of pizza. Heck, if you can have sausage or pepperoni pizza, why not lamb shank right! Sarah took the bait, hook, line, and sinker.
With the lamb requiring a night in the fridge, I pulled out a chunk of frozen pizza dough that could also use a day in the fridge to thaw. Taking the lamb, and it’s now de-fatted (is that a word?) braising broth out the next day, I pulled the meat of the bone and sliced into 1/4 inch thick pieces. While stretching the dough, I slowly warmed the lamb up in its liquid. Slicing a few mushrooms, I finished topping the dough with sauce, olive oil, and nice meaty slices of fresh mozzarella. Into a 550 degree oven for 8 minutes (the dough is really wet), and voila. The minimally topped pizza work really well, with Sarah happily consuming her lamb topped slices. For me, the best part may have just been the crispy edges that formed on the lamb. Maybe not your everyday pizza or something you’ll find around town, but damn it was good.
Braised Lamb Shanks
extra virgin olive oil
3 lamb shanks, about 1 pound each
Salt & Pepper (freshly ground of course)
2 cups sliced onion
4 or 5 cloves minced garlic
1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
1 cup beef stock (depends on pan)
1 cup chopped tomato
1. Heat some oil over medium-high heat in a cast iron pan with a lid or Dutch oven. When hot, add the shanks and brown on all sides, sprinkling with salt and pepper as they cook. Remove the lamb and pour off most of the fat. Add the onion and cook over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until softened and golden.
2. Add the garlic and thyme and cook for another minute, then add the liquid, some salt and pepper, and the tomato; stir to blend. Return the lamb shanks to the pan, turn them once or twice, cover, and turn the heat to low.
3. Cook for 30 minutes and then turn the shanks. Continue to cook for at least another 90 minutes (I went 120), turning occasionally, until the shanks are very tender (a toothpick inserted into them will meet little resistance) and the meat is nearly falling from the bone.
4. Cool liquid, strain, and remove fat.
5. Reheat the next day with liquid.