This osso buco is made with lamb instead of the traditional veal shanks. Whole lamb shanks always look gargantuan to me, so I have the butcher cut each shank into three pieces.
I use a technique for cooking them that is not traditional: After seasoning the meat, I simmer it for an hour with aromatics, which provides a light broth from which to make a sauce. Then I finish the shanks by baking them in the sauce.
As with most stews, making the dish the day before both eases preparation and improves flavor. Osso buco is customarily served sprinkled with gremolata, a mixture of parsley, lemon zest, and garlic. Here I add orange zest and capers. I often serve steamed potatoes or polenta with the shanks.
Trim the excess fat from the lamb shanks and season them generously with salt and pepper. Put the shanks in a large heavy-bottomed pot and cover with cold water. Add the onions, carrot, celery, bay leaves, thyme, and cloves. Bring the water to a boil, skimming any surfacing foam, then turn the flame to low.
Cover the pot and simmer the meat until cooked through but still firm, about 1 hour. Remove the meat, then strain and reserve the broth.
In a large saucepan, melt the butter over medium heat. Stir in the flour and brown carefully, stirring, until just past golden. Add the tomato paste and porcini powder, if using. Slowly whisk in 10 cups of the reserved lamb broth, 1 cup at a time, allowing the sauce to thicken after each addition.
Simmer the sauce gently for 15 minutes. Taste and adjust the seasoning. The finished sauce will be only barely thickened but will have good color and body.
Preheat the oven to 375°F. Put the cooked lamb shanks in two low earthenware dishes, in one layer, with the bones sticking up. Mix the wine into the sauce and pour the sauce over the shanks to come halfway up each dish.
Bake the lamb shanks, uncovered, until the tops are well browned, about 20 minutes. Now cover the shanks, reduce the heat to 350°F, and bake for another 40 minutes or so, until the meat is quite tender. At this point you can serve the shanks hot from the oven, if desired.
Uncover the lamb and cool in its sauce to room temperature. Refrigerate overnight if desired.
To reheat, bring the dish to room temperature and bake, covered, at 400°F for 15 to 20 minutes.
Serve the lamb shanks steaming hot directly from the baking dishes. Sprinkle the gremolata liberally over the entire dishes just before bringing them to the table. Serve each diner 3 meaty bones with a good spoonful of sauce.
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