Whenever I see "new season" anything at the market, I immediately have to have it. Even if I have no clue what I'm going to do with it, I buy a kilo of whatever it is then deal the consequences later. This is what happened when I found these adorable cipollini onions. I had no plans for braising lamb shanks today, but that's what I did after I came home with armfuls of these little buttons. I couldn't pass on such cute, squished onions. I was like Dory in Finding Nemo: "I shall call him Squishy and he shall be mine, and he shall be my Squishy"
Slow-Braised Lamb Shanks with Cipollini Onions and Dates
adapted from here
2 tablespoons sunflower oil
4 cloves garlic, finely chopped
4 lamb shanks
10 cipollini onions (or French shallots)
2 sprigs fresh oregano
1 tablespoon sweet paprika
1 teaspoon ground coriander
4 tomatoes, roughly chopped
8 medjool dates, halved and pitted
1 litre beef stock
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
Preheat the oven to 160C.
Heat the oil in a large Dutch oven. Brown the shanks on all sides over medium-high heat. Add the garlic and toss briefly in the oil and mix on and over the shanks. Add the onions, oregano, paprika, coriander. tomatoes, dates and stock, stir well. Season with salt and pepper. Cut a piece of baking paper just big enough to sit right on top of the shanks and their liquid. Cover with the lid and braise in the oven for 2 hours.
When the lamb is falling off the bones, remove from the oven. Take the shanks and all of the onions and some of the date halves out and set them aside.
Return the pot with cooking liquid to the stove and bring to the boil. Boil to reduce, until you have 1 1/2 - 2 cups of liquid. Cool the liquid slightly, then pour it into a blender (or use a stick blender right in the pot) and blitz until smooth. Check the seasoning and adjust if necessary.
Return the shanks, onions and dates to the pan and bring to simmer over medium heat. Remove from the stove when piping hot and serve with buttered couscous and Turkish Spoon Salad.