5 lamb shanks
1 large onion, finely chopped
¼ cup olive oil
5-6 garlic cloves, chopped
1 (15 ounce) can pureed tomatoes
1 tablespoon tomato paste
1 cinnamon stick
1 bay leaf
1 teaspoon dry crushed oregano
¼ teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
Salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
4 cups water
1 pound uncooked orzo
1 and ½ teaspoons salt
3 cups boiling hot water
Garnish: feta cheese, parsley, freshly grated parmesan cheese
Preheat oven to 450 degrees Fahrenheit, 232 degrees Celsius.
Drizzle a very small amount of olive oil over lamb shanks and season with salt and pepper on both sides. Roast in preheated oven for 35 minutes until they become nicely browned. This step eliminated the need to brown on the stove top.
While the lamb is browning in the oven prepare the sauce.
In a heavy bottomed pot, cook the chopped onions with the oil over medium heat for about 15 minutes or until soft and golden. Add the chopped garlic and cook another 5 minutes over low heat until golden and soft.
Add the pureed canned tomatoes, salt, pepper and spices. Add 4 cups of water and bring to a boil.
Once the lamb is browned, remove from oven.
Pour the tomato sauce over the lamb. Cover the tray with foil and return to oven to cook for 1 hour at 450 degrees Fahrenheit.
After 1 hour, reduce the temperature to 375 degrees Fahrenheit, 191 degrees Celsius and continue to cook for 1 hour and 20 minutes or until the meat is falling off the bone.
Remove from oven and taste the sauce. Adjust the seasoning if it needs more salt.
Bring 3 cups of water to a boil.
Place the uncooked orzo into the lamb and sauce and mix. Add the 3 cups of boiling hot water along with 1 and ½ teaspoons salt. Mix well to incorporate.
Return the pan to the oven and bake at 425 degrees Fahrenheit, 218 degrees Celsius for 15 minutes, covered with foil.
Remove foil and cook 10 minutes uncovered.
Take the baking pan out of the oven and pour 1 cup of ice into it to stop the orzo from cooking. Mix it carefully. This will keep the orzo from overcooking and becoming gelatinous or mushy. It also adds to the sauce.
Garnish with freshly chopped parsley, crumbled feta or grated parmesan cheese.