Stout creates a beautiful syrupy glaze that blends so well with meat juices. Now when the temperatures dip, when I’m cooking anything north of a chicken on the food chain I ask myself, “What would a stout glaze taste like on that?”
Preheat the oven to 325°F. Combine the coriander seeds, fennel seeds, and peppercorns in a small, heavy skillet. Toast over medium-high heat until the seeds are aromatic and slightly darker, about 2 minutes. Transfer to a spice grinder or use a mortar and pestle to grind to a fine powder. Rub each shank with a generous teaspoon of the spice blend and sprinkle with salt.
Heat a 4-count of oil in a large, wide, heavy pot over high heat. Add the shanks and brown on all sides, turning often, about 15 minutes. Remove the shanks from the pan. Add a 2-count of oil to the same pot, then add the onions, celery, carrots, leeks, garlic, and bay leaves. Sauté over high heat until the vegetables start to soften and take on some color, about 15 minutes. Add the tomatoes, (crushing them by hand), tomato paste, and red wine. Stir to combine and cook for an additional 10 minutes over high heat. Add the beef broth and Guinness, then return the seared lamb shanks to the pot, nestling them into the liquid. Bring the braising liquid to a simmer, then cover the pot and slide it into the oven.
Braise the shanks for 2½ hours total, adding the thyme and marjoram to the pot after 2 hours. The lamb should be tender and falling away from the bone.
While the shanks braise, place the carrots on a baking sheet. Drizzle with a little olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Roast for 20 to 25 minutes, or until nearly tender.
Transfer the shanks to a plate, then strain the braising liquid through a fine-mesh sieve. Return the sauce and shanks to the pot to combine. Toss the watercress with the lemon juice and serve with the shanks, spooning plenty of the stout gravy on top.
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