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Traditional Turkish Braised Lamb Shanks with Eggplant Puree

July 2012

From José Andrés’ Zaytinya in Washington, DC
Serves 6

For the Lamb Shanks:
4 tablespoons canola oil
5 pounds lamb shanks (3-4 shanks)
3 tablespoons kosher salt
2 tablespoons freshly ground black pepper
1 large Spanish onion, peeled and sliced 1/2"-thick
2 cloves garlic
2 quarts chicken stock
2 quarts veal stock
3 sprigs fresh thyme
3 sprigs fresh oregano
2 bay leaves

For the Eggplant Puree:
3 tablespoons olive oil
2 pounds eggplant, about 3 eggplants roasted until soft, then peeled
3 ounces butter, unsalted
1/3 cup all-purpose flour
3 1/2 cups half and half
1 tablespoon kosher salt
1 pinch ground nutmeg
1 pinch white pepper
1 1/2 cups kefalograviera cheese or gruyere
2 tablespoons chopped fresh chives

For the lamb shanks: Heat the oil in a large dutch oven, or a heavy-bottomed stock pot with lid, over medium-high heat. Season the shanks well with salt and black pepper. Sear the shanks until well browned and caramelized on all sides. Transfer  the shanks to a plate and set aside.
Add onions to the pot and cook until translucent, about 5 minutes. Scrape up the browned bits in the pan and mix with the onions as they cook. Add the garlic and cook, stirring so as not to burn the garlic, for about 3 more minutes.

Add the shanks back to the pot and pour in the chicken and veal stocks. Increase the heat to high and bring to a boil. Add thyme, oregano and bay leaves and reduce heat to medium-low and let simmer for 2-3 hours, until shanks are fork tender and falling off the bone.

For the eggplant puree: Heat oven to 400 degrees.

Brush the eggplant with olive oil and place on a baking dish or sheet pan, and roast in the oven for about 40 minutes, turning the eggplants over to crisp on all sides. Pierce with a fork to make sure that eggplant is cooked through and soft. Set eggplant aside to cool and let the skins loosen. Once cool enough to handle, trim off the top of the eggplant and peel off the skins. Chop up the eggplant, discard the skins and set aside.

Once the shanks are cooked, carefully remove them from the cooking liquid and set aside. Raise the heat to medium-high and let the cooking liquid reduce by about half, until thickened and intensely flavored, about 15 minutes. 

While the sauce is reducing, gently remove the shank meat from the bone and cut the meat from each shank into about 3 pieces, following the natural seams in the meat. If you like, you can remove the marrow from the bones and blend it into the sauce for added flavor. Strain the sauce through a sieve into a smaller saucepan and keep warm.

For the eggplant puree, melt the butter in medium saucepan over medium heat. Add the flour and stir until well combined. Cook the mixture until golden brown to create a roux, about 10 minutes. Add half and half gradually and stir to create a thick white sauce.

Add roasted eggplant, salt, nutmeg and white pepper and mix together. Stir in the 
cheese then, working in batches, transfer the mixture to a blender and puree. Return the mixture to the pan and keep warm.

To serve, spoon the eggplant puree into the bottom of a shallow bowl or plate, top with couple pieces of lamb shank and spoon the sauce over the top. Garnish with chives.

Photography by Powers & Crewe