Lamb Shanks with Yogurt Gravy

There is no bad way to have a lamb shank, the Basque restaurants I have had them at pretty much use only salt and pepper and roast them in their own juices until they are tender and the natural flavor of the lamb is marvelous. My favorite way to cook them though is to brown them and cook them in with a lot of spices in a slow cooker and then serve them on a bed of rice with the savory juices on top that are thickened and mixed with yogurt.

4 lamb shanks (about 1 1/4 pounds each)

¼ cup olive oil

1 tablespoon freshly ground black pepper

1 tablespoon salt

1 medium yellow onion, coarsely chopped

2 large garlic cloves, minced

1 teaspoon ground allspice

1 1/2 teaspoons cayenne pepper

1 teaspoon ground ginger

1 teaspoon ground cumin

1/2 teaspoon ground coriander

1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg

1 cup dry red wine

2 cups chicken stock

2 tablespoons tomato paste

1 cup plain yogurt

4 tablespoons cornstarch

¼ cup water

In a skillet (if you are using a slow cooker) or in a Dutch oven or a soup kettle, heat up the olive oil and sauté the onions and garlic, remove them and sprinkle the lamb shanks with salt and pepper and brown them in the olive oil.

A: If you are using a slow cooker place the lamb shanks, onions and garlic in it. Add the chicken stock to the skillet and scrape up the pan drippings and pour into the slow cooker and add all the rest of the ingredients except for the yogurt, cornstarch and water and cook for an hour, or until the meat is falling off the bone.
When lamb is done remove it from the cooker and using a gravy separator remove most of the fat. Then mix the cornstarch with the water and stir this into the juices in the cooker and heat this up until the sauce thickens and stir in the yogurt. Pour over the lamb shanks on a bed of rice, polenta or couscous.
B: If you are using a Dutch oven or soup pot just add the onions and garlic back to the pot after you remove them to brown the lamb shanks and then add the chicken stock along with the rest of the ingredients except for the yogurt, corn starch and water and simmer over medium low heat for an hour to an hour and a half. When lamb is done remove it from the pot and using a gravy separator remove most of the fat. Then mix the cornstarch with the water and stir this into the juices in the cooker and heat this up until the sauce thickens and stir in the yogurt. Pour over the lamb shanks on a bed of rice, polenta or couscous.

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