Ask your butcher to saw the lamb shanks in half crosswise to resemble the veal used for osso buco. Exposing the bone adds body to the sauce and makes it possible to enjoy the bone marrow. However, you can make the dish with whole lamb shanks, if you prefer.
- 4 lamb shanks, sawed in half crosswise
- Kosher or sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
- 6 tablespoons (3 fl oz/90 ml) extra virgin olive oil
- 3 large leeks, white and pale green parts only, halved lengthwise and thinly sliced, about 4-1/2 cups (450 g)
- 4 large cloves garlic, minced
- 2/3 cup (5 fl oz/160 ml) white wine
- 2 cups (16 fl oz/500 ml) chicken broth
- 6 large sprigs of fresh mint, tied together with kitchen twine, plus 2 dozen large mint leaves
- ½ pound (250 g) sugar snap peas, trimmed
- 1 cup (250 g) English peas or frozen petite peas
- 2 tablespoons finely minced Italian parsley
- 2 teaspoons finely grated lemon zest
- 1 small clove garlic, grated with a rasp grater or very finely minced
1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon unsalted butter
Season the lamb on all sides with salt and pepper.
Heat 3 tablespoons olive oil in a large, wide pot or Dutch oven over medium heat. Set aside 1-1/2 cups (150 g) of the leeks. Add the remaining leeks and minced garlic to the pot. Season with salt and pepper and sauté until soft, 5 to 10 minutes, reducing the heat if necessary to prevent browning. Transfer the leeks and garlic to a large plate and return the pot to medium heat.
Add the remaining 3 tablespoons olive oil. Brown the lamb on all sides, adjusting the heat so the lamb browns without burning. Transfer it as it browns to the plate with the leeks.
Pour off and discard any fat in the pot. Return the pot to medium heat, add the white wine and bring to a simmer, scraping up any stuck-on bits of meaty residue with a wooden spoon. Add the broth and bundled mint sprigs and bring to a simmer. Return the meat and sautéed leeks to the pot, baste with the broth, cover, and adjust the heat to maintain a gentle simmer.
Cook until the lamb is fork-tender and beginning to fall off the bone, about 2 hours, turning the meat over in the broth occasionally.
While the lamb cooks, bring a large pot of salted water to a boil over high heat. Prepare a bowl of ice water. Boil the sugar snap peas until crisp-tender, about 3 minutes. Transfer with a wire-mesh skimmer or sieve to the ice water. Boil the fresh peas (if using) until tender, about 5 minutes. Drain and add to the ice water. When the peas are cool, drain well in a sieve.
Make the gremolata: In a small bowl, combine the parsley, lemon zest, and garlic.
With tongs, transfer the lamb to a bowl and cover. Pour the liquid into a measuring cup and let stand for about 15 minutes to allow fat to rise to the surface. Skim off as much fat as you can, then return the liquid to the pot. Simmer until the liquid is reduced to a sauce consistency; you should have about 1-1/3 cups (11 fl oz/350 ml). Taste for seasoning. Return the lamb and any juices to the sauce, reheat gently, and keep warm over low heat.
Melt the butter in a skillet over medium heat. Add the reserved leeks, season with salt, and sauté until soft, 5 to 10 minutes, reducing the heat if necessary to prevent browning. Add the sugar snap peas and English peas. (If using frozen peas, add them now.) Season with salt and heat, uncovered, until the peas are hot throughout, adding a splash of water if needed to moisten. Tear the mint leaves into smaller pieces and stir them in.
Divide the vegetables among 4 wide shallow bowls. Place the lamb shanks on top and spoon sauce over the shanks. Top the shanks with the gremolata. Serve immediately.