Wrapping meat in aluminum foil and roasting it slowly in the oven is similar to braising, as the steam trapped in the foil packet envelops the meat and keeps it moist during the long roasting. Serve the shanks with couscous and a simple green salad.
Baked Lamb Shanks with Fennel Gremolata
20 cloves garlic
6 small anchovy fillets (optional)
2 shallots, halved
2 large sprigs rosemary
Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
3 Tbs. dry white wine or vermouth
4 Tbs. (2 fl. oz./60 ml.) extra-virgin olive oil
Grated zest of 1 lemon
2 tsp. fresh lemon juice
4 meaty lamb shanks, about 1 lb. (500 g.) each
For the fennel gremolata:
2 Tbs. minced fennel fronds or fresh dill
2 Tbs. finely chopped fennel
Grated zest of 1 orange
Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F (165 degrees C) and place a rimmed baking sheet inside.
In a mini food processor or with a sharp knife, chop the garlic, anchovies (if using), shallots and rosemary. Transfer to a bowl, add 1/4 teaspoon salt (or 1/2 teaspoon salt if not using the anchovies), and season with pepper. Add 2 tablespoons of the wine, 3 tablespoons of the oil, and the lemon zest and juice. Mix until thin paste forms.
Place a large, heavy fry pan over medium heat and add the remaining 1 tablespoon oil. Pat the lamb shanks dry and season generously with salt and pepper on all sides. When the oil begins to shimmer, sear 2 of the shanks until golden brown on all sides, about 8 minutes per side. Transfer to a platter and sear the remaining shanks. Pour off the fat from the pan, add the remaining 1 tablespoon wine and quickly deglaze the pan, stirring to scrape the browned bits from the bottom. Add to the paste.
Place 4 large squares of heavy-duty aluminum foil on a work surface. Set a shank in the center of each, pull up the sides of the foil slightly, and divide the flavoring paste evenly among the packets, dolloping the mixture on top of the shanks. Crimp the foil firmly to seal the packets thoroughly. Transfer to the baking sheet in the oven and cook, turning the packets every 30 minutes or so, until the shanks are very tender, 2 to 2 1/2 hours.
Meanwhile, prepare the gremolata: In a small bowl, stir together the fennel fronds, chopped fennel and orange zest.
Carefully open the packets and transfer the lamb shanks to a warmed platter. Pour the juices from the packets into a large glass measuring pitcher and let settle for 1 minute. With a bulb baster, remove some of the juices from underneath the fat, and use as much as you like to moisten the lamb shanks. Garnish with the gremolata and serve at once. Serves 4 to 6.