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Braised Lamb Stew with Gran Canaria Cheese

Servings: 8


1 cup all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon cracked black pepper
4 medium lamb shanks
1/2 cup grapeseed or safflower oil, divided
4 medium yellow onions, sliced, divided
10 black peppercorns
3 sprigs fresh thyme
2 sprigs fresh rosemary
2 bay leaves
2 cups lamb, veal or beef stock
2 cups dark beer, preferably porter or doppelbock
1/4 cup red wine vinegar
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
2 pounds carrots, peeled, sliced 1/2-inch thick
1 1/2 pounds fingerling potatoes, sliced 1/2-inch thick
3 cups button mushrooms, halved
1 pound Wisconsin Gran Canaria cheese or another aged, mixed-milk cheese, crumbled into pea-sized pieces

Cooking Directions:

For lamb: Heat oven to 325°F. Combine flour, salt and cracked black pepper in shallow pan. Roll lamb shanks in mixture to fully coat; tap to remove excess flour. Set aside. Heat 1/4 cup oil in large sauté pan over medium-high heat. Place lamb in pan and sear, turning over until shanks have a golden crust. Remove from pan; set aside.

Place 2 cups onions, all of the peppercorns, thyme, rosemary and bay leaves in bottom of 4 to 6-inch deep baking dish. Place lamb over the aromatics. Pour stock and beer over shanks. Firmly seal the dish with aluminum foil or very tight-fitting lid. Be sure that foil does not touch lamb. Place dish in oven and bake 3 hours or until meat falls off the bone.

Remove shanks from liquid; place in refrigerator to cool slightly. Strain the liquid in the pan into a wide, heavy-bottomed saucepan and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to strong simmer; reduce liquid to half its original volume, occasionally skimming off fat with slotted spoon. Strain liquid again; season with vinegar, mustard, and salt and pepper to taste. If desired, add 1 to 2 teaspoons honey or sugar to balance bitter flavor of beer. Set aside.

For stew: Remove lamb from bones, leaving in large pieces. Remove any fat. Heat 1/4 cup oil in large stock pot over medium heat. Add carrots and potatoes; sauté 7 minutes. Add mushrooms and 2 cups onions; sauté for another 4 minutes. Add reduced sauce; bring to a simmer. Add lamb; cover and simmer until potatoes and carrots are just cooked through, 30 to 45 minutes. Remove from heat.

Final preparation: Ladle stew into shallow bowls and top with sprinkling of Gran Canaria. Allow cheese to melt slightly before serving. Serve with crusty bread.

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