By Mark Bittman, award-winning author and columnist for the New York Times
Yield: 4 servings
Total time: At least 2 1/2 hours
1. Combine the lamb shanks, Port or wine, and garlic in a skillet just large enough to hold the shanks. Turn the heat to high and bring to a boil; cover and turn the heat so that the mixture simmers gently. Cook, turning about every 30 minutes, until the shanks are tender and a lovely mahogany color, at least 2 hours and more likely longer.
2. Remove the shanks and strain the sauce. If time allows, refrigerate both, separately; skim the fat from the top of the sauce. Preheat a charcoal or gas grill or the broiler; the rack should be 4 to 6 inches from the heat source, and the fire hot.
3. Grill or broil the shanks until nicely browned all over, sprinkling them with salt and pepper and turning as necessary; total cooking time will be about 15 minutes. Meanwhile, reheat the sauce gently; season it with salt and pepper, then add the vinegar or lemon juice. Taste and add more seasoning if needed. Serve the shanks with the sauce.
Variation: Anise-flavored Lamb Shanks (or Short Ribs)
Braise the meat in a mixture of 1/4 cup soy sauce, 1 cup water, 5 thin slices of ginger, 5 whole star anise, 4 cloves garlic, and 1 tablespoon sugar. Proceed as above, finishing the sauce with rice or white wine vinegar.
"Often you find that there are ways you can improve techniques or recipes," says J. Kenji López-Alt, author of The Food Lab: Better Home Cooking Through Science.