Thanks to some tweaks from David Schneider of Wicker Park’s Taxim, you won’t need a yuvetsi — a classic Greek terra cotta pot — to prepare this traditional braised lamb. But you’ll still want to set aside an afternoon to make the dish, which calls for specialty items like Greek orzo and myzithra cheese. (You can find both at Lincoln Square’s HarvesTime Foods.) The most important ingredient is time: An all-day stovetop simmer, most of it hands off, yields spoon-tender lamb and a comforting broth, which in turn infuses the orzo. The end result is an impressive meal that’s perfect to serve for spring celebrations like Easter.
Taxim’s Lamb Shank Yuvetsi
Makes:4 to 6 servings
Active time:40 minutes
Total time:7 hours
|¼ cup plus 1 tsp.||Olive oil, divided|
|4||Lamb foreshanks (about 4 lb. total), washed, patted dry, and chilled|
|2 tsp.||Kosher salt, plus more for seasoning|
|Black pepper, for seasoning|
|2||Medium red onions, finely chopped|
|1||Medium carrot, diced|
|8||Plum tomatoes, peeled and grated|
|6||Garlic cloves, slivered|
|1 tsp.||Whole allspice, secured in cheesecloth|
|2 liters||Boiling water, plus more as needed|
|5 Tbsp.||Unsalted butter|
|2 cups||Greek orzo (like Misko brand)|
|Grated myzithra cheese (like Krinos brand), for serving|
|Plain yogurt, for serving|
1. In a large Dutch oven, heat olive oil over medium-high. Season lamb with salt and pepper. Sear lamb, two shanks at a time, turning frequently, until browned all over, about 8 minutes per batch. Set aside.
2. Cook onions and carrots in the Dutch oven, stirring often, until golden brown, 8 to 10 minutes. Return lamb to the pot and top with tomatoes, garlic, herbs, spices, 2 teaspoons salt, and 2 liters of boiling water. Cook at medium-high for 30 minutes, spooning off any scum that rises to the surface. Reduce heat to low, partially cover the pot, and simmer until lamb is fork tender, 5 to 6 hours. Throughout this period, add boiling water as needed to maintain the liquid level.
3. Heat the oven to 350 degrees. Transfer lamb to a lightly oiled 9-by-13-inch casserole, reserving the braising liquid. Discard the allspice. Roast lamb until a crust develops, about 30 minutes.
4. While lamb roasts, melt butter in a large, deep skillet set over medium-high heat. Add orzo and toast, tossing with a wooden spoon, until golden, about 5 minutes. Slowly pour in the braising liquid while stirring. Reduce heat to medium and cook orzo, stirring occasionally, until al dente, about 20 minutes.
5. Remove lamb from the oven and spoon orzo around it evenly. Return the casserole to the oven and bake until orzo is crisped and browned around the edges, about 30 minutes. Serve with myzithra and yogurt.