Photograph by Martyn Thompson Food Styling by Maggie Ruggiero 
Prop Styling by Ayesha Patel

Burnt: Smell

Lamb Shanks with blackened Eggplant and Blistered Tomatoes

Mains from Issue 12 - Winter 2018 – The Senses

Baby heads. Theories differ about what causes their singular smell to inspire such enthrall, but for adults, parents or not, they’re universally intoxicating. In the kitchen, scents with an ability to hold us rapt abound. Our lamb shanks, braised with porcini mushrooms, balsamic, and red wine until dark and fall-off-the-bone tender, with eggplants and tomatoes, roasted until blackened and blistering, respectively, certainly qualify.

serves 6

For Lamb
  • ½ oz dried porcini mushroom
  • 6 lamb shanks, about 6 lbs
  • 4 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 large onion
  • 3 cloves garlic
  • 2 sprigs rosemary
  • 2 ½ Tbsp tomato paste
  • 1 ½ cups dry red wine
  • ¼ cup balsamic vinegar
  • 2 cups low-sodium chicken stock
  • 1 bay leaf

For Eggplant and Tomatoes
  • 6 small eggplants (6 to 8 oz each)
  • 3 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
  • 3 cups mixed cherry tomatoes
  • extra virgin olive oil for drizzling
  • flaky salt

  • 1

    Preheat oven to 325°F. Steep porcini in 2 cups boiling water in a bowl. Let stand until softened, about 15 minutes. Strain liquid through a fine sieve, reserving both mushrooms and liquid separately. Finely chop mushrooms and set aside.

  • 2

    Season the lamb generously with salt and pepper. Heat 2 Tbsp oil in a heavy skillet over medium-high. Working in batches, sear shanks all over, transferring to a roasting pan when browned. Discard fat from skillet and add remaining 2 Tbsp oil along with onion, garlic, and rosemary, and cook, stirring frequently, until onions are softened and starting to brown. Stir in mushrooms and cook 2 minutes longer. Add tomato paste and cook, stirring frequently, 3 minutes. Pour in wine and vinegar and boil until liquid is reduced by half, 10-15 minutes. Add mushroom liquid, stock, and bay leaf, then bring to a boil and pour over shanks. Cover roasting pan tightly with foil and transfer pan to oven. Braise, turning shanks once or twice, until the lamb is very tender, 1 ½ – 2 hours.

  • 3

    Remove lamb from oven and keep warm. Increase heat to 450°F and place a baking sheet inside to preheat.

  • 4

    Cut 8 deep slits into each eggplant and slip a slice of garlic inside a few. Place eggplants on hot pan and roast, turning occasionally, until skins are charred, about 25-35 minutes. Add tomatoes to pan and continue roasting until eggplants are tender and tomatoes blistered, about 8 minutes longer.

  • 5

    Split eggplants, drizzle generously with oil and sprinkle with salt. Serve alongside sauced lamb.