This week is all about change. After four and half years, Andy took a new job which starts today. Last Thursday we commenced a kitchen and bathroom renovation on our apartment. We could have continued to live there, but with me six months pregnant and our living in what looks like a war zone and Mom and Dad within commuting distance of the city, we decided to stay with them through the four to six weeks of renovations.
While some might shudder at the idea, living with Mom and Dad is easy. Aside from the longer commute to work, it’s actually enjoyable. They transformed the room above the garage into a cozy little apartment, and cleaned out a large closet for our clothes. And of course, we’re not complaining about the perpetually well-stocked fridge and pantry!
Mom’s in Alabama with her Mom and cousins this week, so it’s just me and my two favorite guys. Yesterday they both worked hard. Andy, training for the New York City Marathon, ran eighteen miles in the morning, while Dad worked at four church services (8 am, 10 am, 4 pm, and 5:30 pm).
Amid all this, Andy and I drove back to the city to pick up more clothes and a few forgotten items, but we didn’t mind. We got a sneak peek at the renovations, and here’s what they’ve done. I keep telling myself it’s gotta look worse before it gets better!
With all this going on, plus it being the night before Andy started his new job, I wanted dinner to be special. In the midst of change and busy schedules, a good meal is important for grounding us and slowing us down.We all needed something substantial and celebratory, yet simple and satisfying.
For our family, a celebration often includes lamb, so I made a wonderful this wonderful, one-dish Braised Lamb Shanks with Tomatoes and White Beans. It feels “fancy”, but it only took about twenty minutes to get them in the oven. I served up the lamb shanks with mashed potatoes, roasted carrots and parsnips, and green peas. While Andy turned on the music and lit the candles, Dad opened a bottle of Chateauneuf-du-Pape, and we sat down to a soul-satisfying dinner.
- 4 large lamb shanks
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- Salt and ground black pepper
- 1 large onion, cut into medium dice
- 3 carrots, cut into medium chunks
- 3 celery stalks, cut into medium chunks
- 3 large garlic cloves, minced
- 1 tablespoon chopped fresh rosemary
- 3 tablespoons flour
- 2 cups chicken broth
- 1 cup red wine
- 1 can (14.5 ounces) crushed tomatoes
- 1 cans (about 16 ounces) cannelini or other white beans, drained
- Adjust oven rack to lower middle position and heat oven to 450 degrees.
- Heat a large Dutch oven over low heat. Meanwhile, place shanks in a medium bowl; coat with oil and season generously with salt and pepper.
- A few minutes before searing shanks, increase heat to a strong medium-high until wisps of smoke rise from the pan. Add shanks; sear on all sides until well browned, 7 to 8 minutes total. Transfer to a bowl; set aside.
- Add onions, carrots, and celery to the now empty roasting pan (Shanks should have rendered enough fat to sauté onions. If not, add another tablespoon of oil; sauté until lightly browned, 5 minutes. Add garlic and rosemary; cook until fragrant, about a minute. Whisk in flour, then broth, wine, and tomatoes, seasoning with salt and pepper.
- Return shanks to pan. Place a sheet of heavy-duty foil over the pot. Press the foil down so that it touches the stew; seal foil completely around the edges then cover with lid. Turn burner on medium-high until you hear juices bubble. Set pot in oven and cook for 1½ hours.
- Transfer pan from oven to stove; arrange shanks on a serving platter; cover with foil to keep warm. Stir beans into stew juices; (remembering pot handles are hot) simmer over medium heat to blend flavors, about 5 minutes. Serve.