On a recent trip to Italy, I took a cooking class at La Tavola Marche, an agriturismo and cooking school in Le Marche. For our class, we prepared braised rabbit, a warm lentil salad and a classic regional fruit tart. Always an avid roaster, I was excited to branch out into a classic braise. The outcome of such cooking method is moist, fall off the bone style protein. My Greek heritage tells me to add red wine and potatoes to any such dish, so with the help of a few sources, this recipe was born.
Braising is a good way to use less expensive cuts of meat and seduce them into submission. BB Ranch provided this leg of lamb and I highly recommend starting a conversation with your butcher as to what meat you should use when.
Foodie Note: Make your own stock with bones from the butcher – while the braise is cooking in the oven, add odds and end from vegetables, spices and organic bones (chicken/beef) to a big pot with water. Let this mixture simmer 1.5-2 hours and voila! Homemade stock for soups and braises.
3 pounds leg of lamb, preferably organic
3 tablespoons olive oil
1 carrot, diced
1 yellow onion, diced
1 celery stock, diced
2 cloves fresh garlic, minced
2 tablespoons tomato paste
½ red wine + ½ cup for sauce
1 cup chicken stock (low sodium store-bought or homemade)
1 tablespoon fresh rosemary, chopped
1 tablespoon fresh thyme
1 bay leaf
1 lb fingerling potatoes, washed, halved width-wise
1) Preheat oven to 300*F. Heat olive oil over medium heat in large Dutch oven. Add carrot, onion and celery, sweating vegetables until moisture has mostly evaporated, about 10-15 minutes.
2) Liberally season lamb with salt and pepper.
3) Turn heat up to medium high, add lamb to vegetables, brown all sides of meat.
4) Add tomato paste to red wine, stir to combine and add to meat mixture. Scrape bottom of pot with a wooden spoon to get the browned bits. After liquid has cooked down by half, add broth, rosemary, thyme and bay leaf. Spoon the liquid over meat and put lid on.
5) Bake covered for 30 minutes, turn the meat and baste.
6) Bake 45 minutes, add fingerling potatoes and ½ teaspoon salt and pepper, cover and bake another 1 ½ hours, turning and basting meat about half way through.
7) Remove pot from oven. Skim fat as best you can, remove meat and potatoes to a serving dish. Add ½ cup red wine and simmer over high heat until liquid is thickened and reduced by half, about 5 minutes. Taste, season with salt/pepper if needed.
8) Pour liquid over meat and serve alongside roasted brussel sprouts or orzo. Enjoy immediately.