Chilly Winter's Eve Lamb Shank Supper

4 lamb shanks Salt and coarse pepper to taste
1 T olive oil
4 cloves garlic, finely chopped
3 carrots, peeled and sliced on the diagonal 1/4-inch thick
1 large onion, chopped
1 fennel, quartered lengthwise and sliced 1/4-inch thick (do not use solid center)
2 bottles (12 ounces each) light to medium beer  (can substitute 24oz chicken broth)
1 can (15 ounces) chopped petite tomatoes and juice
1 c  fat-free chicken broth
10 sprigs fresh thyme
3 bay leaves

Generously season shanks with salt and pepper. In large skillet, heat oil over high heat. Brown shanks on all sides until golden brown, about 15 minutes. Remove from pan and place in a 13 x 9-inch baking pan. Pour out liquid from pan.
In same skillet, combine garlic, carrots, onion and fennel; sauté for 6 to 8 minutes to lightly brown, stirring occasionally. Mix in beer or broth, tomatoes and juice, chicken broth, thyme and bay leaves. Bring to a boil. Pour over shanks. Braise in 375°F oven for 2-1/2 hours. Baste shanks with sauce and turn them over every 45 minutes. Serve lamb in large, low-sided soup bowls with broth and vegetables.

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