Searing over high heat caramelizes the surface of the meat, which enhances the savory 'meat' flavor and fills the finished dish with complex layers of nutty caramel and coffee-like bitterness. In technical terms, this is called a Maillard reaction and it's a flavor profile we omnivores happen to find quite delicious. Without searing, meat dishes can taste flat and boring.
From The Kitchn
- 4 Lamb Shanks
- 3-6 Strips Of Bacon, Chopped
- 1 Large Onion
- 1 Bulb Fennel
- 4 Cloves Garlic
- 4 Cups Beef Stock
- 1/2 Bottle Red Wine (or more beef stock)
- Salt, Pepper, Thyme, Garam Masala
- Olive Oil
Season lamb shanks with a generous amount of salt and pepper. Get a large dutch oven nice and hot, add about 2 tbls olive oil. Sear the lamb shanks two at a time in the pot to form a nice crust, a few minutes on each side. Remove lamb and set aside.
Add chopped bacon to the pot, cook until it starts to brown. Toss in fennel, garlic and onion. Cook vegetables until slightly tender, but not overdone.
Season with a little more salt & pepper, 1 tsp thyme and 1 tsp Garam Masala (cardamom, cinnamon, cloves, cumin, black pepper, coriander). If you don't have this just leave it out. I like the complex Indian flavor of this dish when using this spice blend.
Add lamb shanks back to pot with the vegetables, cover with beef stock & wine. Use just enough liquid to barely cover the lamb shanks. Turn down to a simmer, cook for at least 4 hours. 5 or 6 just means even more tenderness. Check every so often to see how its coming along and make sure its simmering, not boiling.
Serve lamb shanks with the juicy vegetables over mashed potatoes or mashed cauliflower. I used this recipe for Cauliflower Sweet Potato Mash, I just omitted the sweet potato this time.