Because of the slow cooking, the lamb practically melts in your mouth. Which is reason enough to try it, but it also boasts an earthiness that I like with a good Argentinian Malbec. One of the nice things about Malbecs from Argentina’s Mendoza region is their affordability. But sadly, their quality is inconsistent, so be sure to confer with a trusted wine merchant for a recommendation before parting with the $20 or so you’ll need to find a good one.
Ingredients (Serves 6+)
2 Lbs lamb shank
10 small onions
4 Cups water
5 tomatoes – blanched, peeled and chopped (or one can organic chopped tomatoes)
2 Sprigs fresh parsley
2 Sprigs fresh thyme
2 cloves garlic, chopped
2 Bay leaves
2 (15 Oz) cans cannellini beans, drained and rinsed
1 pound cubed ham3 Sweet Italian sausages
Boil the lamb in the four cups of water until it’s falling-off-the-bone tender. Remove from heat but RESERVE THE LAMB BROTH for later. Once the lamb has cooled, cut into bite-sized cubes/pieces.
Using a generous square of cheesecloth (photo), secure the parsley, thyme and bay leaf with kitchen twine, leaving a long leash on the garni, so you can easily pull it from the stew later. Place the herb bundle, the lamb, ham, onions, tomato and garlic in a large saucepan over medium-high heat. Add the reserved lamb broth and enough water to equal four cups. Bring to a boil and then reduce to low and simmer for an hour.
Meanwhile, remove the sausage meat from the casings and brown lightly, breaking up into fork-sized crumbles. Remove sausage from heat, drain off fat, and reserve.
Drain and rinse the beans and set aside. After the stew has simmered for an hour, stir in the beans and sausage and continue to simmer for about 15 minutes, or more if you want a thicker consistency.
The deep flavors of this dish work very well with the tannin and fruitiness of the Malbec, both of which offer warm comfort on a winter evening.
Dave the Wine Merchant