Eat Now: Kat & Theo

AUTUMN IN NEW YORK MEANS RED WINE, COZY SWEATERS AND SOUL-SATISFYING BRAISES LIKE THIS LAMB SHANK COURTESY OF CHEF PARAS SHAH.

Cool, crisp air, a skyline of crimson, orange and gold and the inner warmth that comes with that first sip of a bold red wine— autumn in New York is a season for the soul, both on the eyes and on the plate. An abundance of squash (butternut, kabocha, delicata, etc.), root vegetables and heartier meats have us craving gratifying soups, roasts and braises like the very seasonal braised lamb shank with torched figs at Flatiron’s new Kat & Theo. Dreamt up by Chef Paras Shah, a New York native and El Bulli/Per Se alum, the dish reflects the restaurant’s dedication to local produce and Mediterranean flavors: lamb is slow-cooked with savory herbs and stewed vegetables, then finished with sweet figs and rye berries. It’s a dish we’ll be craving all season-long. Graciously, Shah agreed to share his recipe with us so we can enjoy it at home (plus, “wow” a few friends and/or partners along the way), though with a former Eleven Madison Park pastry chef and a Jim Kearns-trained mixologist on board too, there are more surely reasons than one for dining at Kat & Theo.

(*Editor’s Note: the recipe may look intimidating at first, but don’t fret. After a full read, you’ll see it comes together fairly easily.)

Braised Lamb Shank with Fig, Root Vegetables and Rye Berries
By Executive Chef Paras Shah
Serves 4.

4 lamb hind-shanks
1 onion, cut in half width-wise
1 carrot
1 head of garlic, cut in half
2 stems each of rosemary and thyme
3 bay leaves
6 whole dried figs
1 bottle of dry red wine
2 whole cloves
1 star anise pod
3 Thai long peppers (or 10 black peppercorns)
Salt and pepper to taste.

Pre-heat the oven to 325 degrees (F). Season the shanks with salt and pepper. Place a Dutch oven on a medium flame and add enough olive oil to cover the bottom of the pan. Sear the lamb shanks until well-browned and set aside. 

Meanwhile, place cut-sides of two onion halves over open flame or in a hot cast-iron skillet and cook until charred. Add the charred onion, carrot and cut head of garlic to Dutch oven and cook until caramelized. Add the rosemary, thyme and bay leaves and cook one minute more. Deglaze the pan with half the bottle of wine, scraping up all the brown bits from the bottom, then add cloves, star anise, peppers and dried figs. Add the lamb shanks back to the pan and bring to a boil; then reduce to a simmer and cover the Dutch oven. Place into the pre-heated oven and braise for 3 hours, or until tender, but not falling off the bone.

Once tender, set aside and let the lamb cool in the braising liquid. Strain out cooking liquid, skim the fat and simmer liquid to reduce by at least half. Once reduced, add the other half of the bottle of wine, and reduce the liquid by half again.

For the Rye Berries:
1 cup rye berries (or wheat berries, farro, or any other whole grain you would like)
1 carrot, small dice
1/4 rutabaga, small dice
2 parsnips, small dice
1/4 cup thick-cut lamb bacon, rendered until crispy, reserving some of the fat (pig bacon works as well)
4 fresh figs, cut into quarters
Salt and pepper to taste

Cook the rye berries according to the cooking instructions on the package, or 3-parts water to 1-part rye berries. Bring to a boil and simmer until tender.

In a bowl, mix the root vegetables and season with salt and pepper and olive oil. Place on an oven-proof baking sheet and bake until browned and tender. (You can also sauté until browned in a pan with a little olive oil.) To finish, add the rendered bacon to the pan along with any remaining bacon fat and sauté the bacon and vegetables together, then add the rye berries and cook until hot. Char the figs over fire or roast in a non-stick pan with olive oil.

To finish, add the lamb shanks back into reduce liquid in Dutch oven and cook over medium heat until the lamb shanks are well glazed.

In a large serving bowl, add a base of the rye berry mixture with 4 pieces of the fig quarters around the plate. Place 1 lamb shank onto the bed of rye berries and pour some braising liquid over lamb. Serve.

FrontSeating_K&T_MelissaHom

The restaurant.

Booths_K&T_MelissaHom

Banquette dining area.

Kat & Theo, 5 W 21st St., 212.380.1950; katandtheo.com CP

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