Braised Lamb with Creamy Polenta

Growing up in England my Mum cooked a traditional Roast Lamb with Mint Sauce dinner at least one sunday out of the month, every month, and I always loved it. Then as I started learning how to cook in America, I realized that people probably don’t eat a lot of lamb out here because it’s really expensive–and not readily available all year round like it is back home. In fact–I have never found it at any grocery store in tricities, except Costco at Easter time, so whenever it comes out in the Spring, I always have to make as many delicious things as I can with it, before it goes again for another year! So far I have tried Roasted Leg of Lamb, herb crusted Lamb Chops, traditional lamb gyros, and rack of lamb–so next up, I really wanted to have a go at making braised lamb shanks, and I knew exactly what to serve them with.

I stumbled across an AMAZING recipe for creamy, cheesy HEAVENLY grits this winter when I made Shrimp & Grits. I never posted the recipe because I wasn’t in love with the shrimp–but I still dream about those grits, because they were to die for delicious and worth every single calorie-loaded bite! Plus, it’s a holiday… which I always use as an excuse to eat whatever the heck I like! I adapted the grits recipe slightly to make it into creamy polenta: which is more traditional to serve with braised lamb, and together they made one of the BEST meals I think I have blogged so far! The lamb was tender, FULL of flavor and absolutely DIVINE and served on a bed of that creamy polenta just made it pretty near perfect. I have seen a few cooking shows where the judges say: “I want you to make YOU on a plate” and i’m sitting there thinking: “what the heck does that mean?” Now I understand a little better. This dish might be “me on a plate.” I love this recipe!

Ingredients {for the Braised Lamb: recipe adapted from italianfoodforever.com}
4 Meaty Lamb Shanks
Salt & Pepper
3 Tablespoons Olive Oil
1 Small Onion Diced
2 Carrots, Peeled And Diced
2 Celery Stalks, Diced
2 Cloves Garlic, Peeled And Minced
1 Cup Dry Wine (Red or White)
1 (14 Ounce) Can Chopped Tomatoes
1 Cup Chicken or Beef Stock
1/4 Cup Chopped Fresh Parsley

{for the polenta}
2 cups chicken stock
1 cup stone-ground white cornmeal
1 cup heavy cream
1 cup parmesan cheese
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

Directions:
Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F. Season the shanks with salt and pepper. In a heavy ovenproof saucepan, heat the olive oil and brown the shanks on all sides until golden brown. Remove the shanks to a dish and add the onions, celery, and carrots to the pan. Cook until they begin to soften, then add the garlic. Cook an additional minute or two, then add the red wine. Cook the wine until it is reduced by half. Add the tomato sauce, broth, and chopped parsley. Bring to a boil, then taste, and season with salt and pepper. Return the shanks to the pot, cover and bake for one hour. Turn the shanks over, then reduce the heat to 325 degrees and cook an additional 90 minutes.

To make the grits, place a 3-quart pot over medium-high heat. Add the chicken stock and bring to a boil. Slowly whisk in the cornmeal. When the grits begin to bubble, turn the heat down to medium low and simmer, stirring frequently with a wooden spoon. Allow to cook for 10 to 15 minutes, until the mixture is smooth and thick. Remove from heat and stir in the cream, cheese and butter, season with salt and pepper.

YUM!!! I had a hard time choosing a special Easter dinner, because it was the first time I have ever really hosted my own, but I couldn’t have picked a better dish to make! This is pure heaven on a plate!

<3 Sarah