Rosemary Braised Lamb Shanks

December 12, 2008 5:55:17 PM PST
You can forget about cooking this holiday season. In this edition of Neighborhood Eats, we're headed to New Jersey, to a restaurant that specializes in holiday lamb. The restaurant follows in the footsteps of Due Terre, in Bernardsville. Francois Rousseau, French-born but a Jersey boy at heart, opened that a year and a half ago. And then, he opened his second restaurant, called Due Mari in September. It is located at 78 Albany Street in New Brunswick.

"There are two things someone told me," Rousseau said. "Chinese and Italian food in American will never go out of style."

And so despite his French heritage, Rousseau has gone the Italian route with Due Mari, which means "two seas" in Italian. It's located in New Brunswick, home of Rutgers University. And while the students may not necessarily dine at Due Mari, people who work on the campus and live in the area do.

There is a refined sensibility to Bill Dorrler's cooking. Of course, there's seafood, a tribute to the restaurant's name. But there's plenty of pasta, salads, lunchtime sandwiches and heartier fare, like braised lamb shanks.

Bill sprinkles salt and pepper on the lamb and then browns the shanks in oil and butter. Once browned, he removes them to make way for celery, carrots and onions, which are sauted along with tomato paste and a pinot noir-type of wine that doesn't overpower the lamb flavor.

Bill adds herbs and stock, and then returns the shanks to the pan. He then covers it and finishes it off in the oven. Three hours later, it's done. It's a great holiday dish, because you can make it two days ahead.

The lamb is served on a bed of lentils, believed to be good luck. So serve it up for the holidays or on New Years, and you'll make your guests happy, just the way Bill and Francois do.

Recipe for Rosemary Braised Lamb Shanks with Stewed Lentils plus Mint Gremolata

Ingredients for Lamb:

  • 4 lamb shanks
  • 1 large Spanish onion diced
  • 4 carrots peeled and diced
  • 4 celery ribs diced
  • 2 bunches rosemary
  • 4 bay leaves
  • 1 cup tomato paste
  • 3 cups red wine
  • 3 cupsbeef or chicken broth
  • salt /pepper
  • extra virgin olive oil


  • Preheat oven to 400

  • Season the shanks with salt. Coat a large saute pan with olive oil and bring to high heat. Add shanks to the pan and brown well on all sides.

  • Remove shanks from pan and place on side. Add vegetables to pan and cook until very brown.

  • Add tomato paste and red wine cook until reduced by half.

  • Add stock, rosemary, and bay leaf. Bring to boil. Add lamb shanks; cook covered with foil for about 2.5-3 hours (or until lamb is very tender and falling off the bone).

  • Let shanks cool in braising liquid. Take out shanks; Strain liquid and Reserve.

    Ingredients for Mint Gremolata:

  • 2 cups lentils rinsed
  • 4 cups water or stock
  • 4 tbs olive oil
  • 2 tomatoes chopped
  • 2 slices of pancetta chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic chopped
  • 3 bay leaves
  • salt
  • 1 onion quartered
  • 1 onion chopped
  • 1 carrot chopped
  • 1 celery chopped


  • Combine lentils, water, oil, quartered onion,pancetta,garlic,and bay leaf. Bring to boil,reduce heat, simmer covered about 1 hour, or until lentils are soft.

  • When lentils are done, pick out 20 veg and bay leaf, reserve lentils

  • Heat oil in saute pan add chopped veg. and tomato cook until lightly browned. Add lentils and 2 cups of reserved braising liqued. Keep hot.

    Ingredients for Lemon Mint Mix

  • 1 lemon zest
  • 1 orange zest
  • 1 bunch mint chopped

    Preparation: Combine all ingredients

    To plate:

  • Spoon lentils into four bowls. Place lamb shank on top of lentils. Sprinkle with lemon mint mix, and serve.

  • Drink with a light Italian red wine such as Cannonau or Pinot Nero

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