Lamb Ragu

adapted from Edward Lee in Gourmet, October 2009

Serves xxx

The bourbon and fennel give this a distinctive spicy-freshness.


  • 2 pounds lamb shanks
  • Rounded 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/4 cup olive oil, divided
  • 1 cup chopped red onion
  • 2 large garlic cloves, chopped
  • 1 cup chopped plum tomatoes
  • 2 tablespoons finely chopped sun-dried tomatoes
  • 3/4 cup chopped celery
  • 1 cup chopped fresh oyster mushrooms or white mushrooms
  • 1/2 cup chopped fennel bulb
  • 1 teaspoon thyme leaves
  • 1/2 teaspoon hot red pepper flakes
  • 3 cups chicken stock or reduced-sodium chicken broth
  • 1 cup bourbon
  • 1/2 tablespoon cider vinegar
  • 1 Tbs Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 Tbs soy sauce
  • 1 Tbs mild honey
  • 1 scallion, chopped

Pat lamb shanks dry and season with kosher salt (rounded 1/2 teaspoon) and 1/4 teaspoon pepper. Heat 2 tablespoons oil in a 5-quart heavy pot over medium-high heat until it shimmers. Brown shanks on all sides, 6 to 7 minutes, then transfer to paper towels to drain. Add remaining 2 tablespoons oil to pot, then cook onion, garlic, plum tomatoes, sun-dried tomatoes, celery, mushrooms, and fennel with thyme, red pepper flakes, and 1/2 teaspoon pepper, stirring occasionally, until softened, 4 to 5 minutes.

Return lamb shanks to pot with stock, bourbon, vinegar, Worcestershire sauce, soy sauce, and honey and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to low and simmer, covered, stirring occasionally, until meat is very tender, 3 to 3 1/2 hours.
Remove meat from bones, discarding bones, and skim fat from cooking liquid, then return meat to pot. Simmer rag├╣, uncovered, stirring frequently, 15 minutes.

Just before serving, stir in scallion.

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