Lamb Shank Stew with Root Vegetables

These days when I step outside, I just want to turn around and go back in the house. Sacramento makes up for its blazingly hot summers with foggy, gloomy, dark, dismal, chilly winters, perfect weather, come to think of it, for hearty stews such as this one. Root vegetables rule the season, sweet carrots and parsnips, turnips, and the happily named rutabaga. (Rutabaga. Rutabaga. Sounds like it could be the name of a latin dance, doesn’t it?) This stew is loaded with flavor. Don’t forget the gremolata (parsley, lemon zest, garlic garnish which I forgot to photograph in the stew); it gives the stew a great zip. For those of you lamb-non-eaters, if you try it with beef (use chuck), let us know how it goes. I imagine it will be just as good.

Lamb Shank Stew with Root Vegetables Recipe

  • Yield: Serves 4.

Ingredients

  • Olive oil
  • 3 lbs of lamb shanks, each shank cut into a couple of pieces
  • Salt and freshly ground pepper
  • 6 garlic cloves, unpeeled
  • 2 celery ribs, coarsely chopped
  • 4 carrots, 2 coarsely chopped, 2 cut into 2-inch segments, and quartered lengthwise
  • 1 large onion, coarsely chopped
  • 1/2 cup tomato paste
  • 1 cup dry red wine
  • 3 cups chicken stock*
  • Two 1x3-inch strips of orange zest
  • 1 medium rutabaga, roughly chopped (1 1/2 inch pieces)
  • 1 medium turnip, roughly sliced or chopped (1 inch pieces)
  • 2 parsnips, chopped

Gremolata

  • 2 Tbsp chopped parsley
  • 2 cloves of garlic, peeled and minced
  • 2 teaspoons finely grated lemon zest

*If cooking gluten-free use homemade chicken stock or gluten-free packaged stock.

Method

1 Heat 2 Tbsp of olive oil in a large Dutch oven on medium high heat. Season the lamb shanks with salt and pepper, add them to the casserole and brown well on all sides, working in batches if necessary. Transfer the shanks to a plate.

2 Add the unpeeled garlic cloves, celery, chopped carrots (half of your carrots, the other half are cut lengthwise to be used later in the recipe) and onion to the pan. Cook over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until golden brown, about 10 minutes. Add the tomato paste and cook, stirring, about 2 minutes. Add the wine; boil over high heat until the liquid is very syrupy, about 5 minutes.

3 Return the shanks to the pot and add the stock and orange zest. Bring to a simmer. Cover the pan, reduce the heat to low, and braise the shank for 3 hours, or until the meat is falling off the bone tender; turn the shanks from time to time as they cook.

4 Preheat oven to 350°F. Put the root vegetables (turnip, rutabaga, parsnips, and lengthwise-cut carrots) in a large baking pan and toss with enough olive oil to coat. Season with salt and pepper and bake in the oven for about an hour, or until tender.

5 In a small bowl, mix the minced garlic with the parsley and lemon zest (the "gremolata"). Set aside.

6 Remove the shanks from the pot and transfer to a plate. Pass the sauce through a coarse strainer, pressing hard on the vegetables. Discard the vegetable pulp. Skim the fat from the surface of the sauce.

7 Return the sauce to the pan, season with salt and pepper and bring to a boil over moderately high heat. Separate the lamb meat from the bones. Add the lamb meat and root vegetables; simmer just until warmed through.

Garnish with the gremolata and serve.

30 Comments

  1. Kendra

    Oh wow. This looks fabulous. We don’t eat lamb very much, but I bet the sweetness goes so well with those richly flavored vegetables. It’s cold and foggy and rainy here too, so I might just have to hunt me down some lamb shanks! Thanks for the recipe as always.

  2. Nick

    Wow. I want to curl up with a blanket on the couch with a gallon this stuff. It’s sooo dreary in DC today and this would be perfect coupled with some bad daytime television.

    Thanks for the recipe and delicious photos.
    Nick
    Macheesmo

  3. Kellie Hill

    Wow, this looks wonderful! I love lamb, and stew, and would never have thought to cobine tomato paste, red wine, chicken stock, and orange zest, but I am definately intrigued!

  4. Amanda

    It has been so cold and dark in Sacramento! I can’t believe this fog! But it is the perfect weather to just stay at home, curled up on a blanket, with a nice pot of stew. I forgot how good and hearty stews are so I plan on making on this coming weekend. Anything to warm up my poor bones…

  5. Mrs.Flam

    ohhhh , so nummy , I wish my husband would let me have more earthy meals , he is so anti – earthy tasting foods , while i love them. *sighs*

    Lamb is so *droooling* Good

  6. Joe G

    This seems like a lot of effort for a stew. I think the whole point is to minimize the number of pots and cooking methods. I’m okay with browning the meat, removing it and browning the carrots, onions and garlic, but why not brown the other vegetables then also instead of baking? If I attempt this, that’s the way I’m doing it so that I still get some type of char on the vegetables and they pick up the flavor of the meat, garlic and onion early on. Stew is about tender meat, large vegetable chunks to retain their shape and flavor, and simplicity.

    Hi Joe, roasting the vegetables brings out a lot of their flavor. This stew does have a few extra steps, but as a frequent stew-maker of all sorts of stews, I assure you, it is worth the effort. The first vegetables that get browned end up being pushed through a sieve to make the sauce. The roasted vegetables retain their shape and consistency by being cooked separately. There are, by the way, other lamb stews on this site, using different methods. ~Elise

  7. mel_e

    Yum!! I JUST bought some lamb and parsnips for stew yesterday; this is the perfect recipe (I had planned on making a lamb/ horseradish/ parsley/ parsnip stew, but I’ve made that one before…) Thanks, and awesome timing!

  8. Bob

    That looks amazing, I could go for some right now. It’s cold and snowy here and a nice warm bowl of stew would really hit the spot. I bet the bones give it some extra flavor too.

  9. cherilyn

    This looks so good! I am a big fan of lamb after living in New Zealand and this sounds very rich and flavorful – defintely going on the list for this week! Thank you.

  10. Laurie

    This looks almost exactly like the dish I used to serve in a restaurant about 10 years ago. My sous chef had lived in Italy for a while and I vaguely remember learning this dish from her. We served it with tomato – lemon gremolada sprinkled over the top and on creamy polenta in a big bowl. It was fabulous! I had forgotten all about that dish until just now. I think we threw in some fresh thyme, and rosemary also.

  11. Nic

    This looks yumm. I have a few shanks in the freezer from last year’s lamb. I might try it on a cooler night, when Summer’s not in full swing here in New Zealand

  12. Farmgirl Susan

    Hi Elise,
    Just the other day I was wondering when you were going to post a new lamb recipe – while I was cooking up a pot of lamb shanks for my visiting lamb-crazy mom. I was also thinking about how I’d gone on and on about how great lamb shanks are the last time you’d written about them. : )

    This recipe sounds wonderful, and you know I’m always looking for new ways to cook our grass-fed lamb. Love the idea of the gremolata.

    Sue Bette,
    You might be able to find a good source for lamb by searching on Local Harvest.

  13. John

    This recipe sounded wonderful, but being in the midst of Post Holiday Spending Financial Recovery Season, I decided to take your suggestion and make it using a chuck roast. It turned out beautifully. Perhaps the best beef stew I’ve ever made, though that may be because I was craving root veggies at the time.

  14. Brad

    My fiancee and I will be trying this recipe out tomorrow night. We just bought our first dutch oven so we thought this would be the perfect recipe to try out with it.

  15. Monica

    I made this recipe last night and it was truly amazing. The broth alone is worth the work that goes into it. I used a regular pot (not a Dutch oven) and it turned out great. Can’t wait for the leftovers tonight!

  16. Janice Hicks

    This was sooOoooo good! Okay, even with my odd substitution of Welch’s grape juice for the dry red wine and a sliced sweet potato and Irish potato for the rutabaga, which dear husband did not find at the local market.
    This was the first time I’ve ever cooked parsnips or turnips. Very satisfying. Thank you again for all you do and all you share of what you do in your kitchen.

  17. Jesse

    Hi Elise, I made the stew and loved it. I’d forgotten how wonderful roasted turnips and rutabagas are!

    The gremolata wasn’t very much to our taste, though. Maybe next time I’d boil or roast the garlic lightly to cut the harshness a bit…

  18. Paul

    If you have trouble finding lamb try a mid-east market. If there is a mosque in your area you can find great bargains in the Halal butcher shop.

  19. Sudu Roy

    Last weekend was a snowy blizzard blast here in the northeast. Thanks to your recipe, it worked well to keep us nice and warm! I used some Welch’s grape juice (instead of the wine) and it turned a bit syrupy and sweet (should have listened to you) which I didn’t like. But the veggies were so perfect with lamb, I am going to do this a few more times before the winter ends. Pls have more such recipes coming!

  20. Nate

    I like that added step of roasting the veggies. Usually you see recipes that call for just stewing and then straining the veggies. But what will you have then, besides meat and strained veggies?

    Thanks for posting this!

  21. Brad

    So we made this dish as the virgin recipe for our new dutch oven and it was absolutely amazing. We got a nice loaf of bread to dip in it as well and mmmmmmm good!

  22. Susan Vibert

    Delicious as well as easy to assemble and prepare. Have been looking for a good lamb shank recipe and this is it. Did not have chicken stock but substituted roasted chicken demi-glace….about a full tablespoon….in addition to 1 cup beef stock and 2 cups of homemade, salt-free vegetable stock. Most would need to add extra salt, but I monitor my sodium intake. I also used the zest from the entire orange to give it a bit more bite which I believe eliminated the need for additional salt. In addition, after removing the parsnips and carrots from the roasting pan, I left the turnips in for another 25 minutes so that they became slightly crispy and semi-caramelized.
    As I adore Moroccan food, next time I’ll add sulfa-free apricots, golden raisins and a few tangy green olives, which flavors will add to the orange zest.
    Thank you so very much for this wonderful recipe.

  23. athina

    Wow! This was the most tender meat I have ever eaten! I loved the flavor of the roasted root veggies.
    Question though- towards the end,(after the solids are pushed through the strainer) when you direct us to bring the sauce to a boil, would you recommend reducing the sauce at all? thought that maybe it would concentrate the flavor of the sauce just a bit. the sauce was a beautiful rich brown sauce, but didn’t have as deep of a flavor as I’d expected. I enjoyed the gremolata topping,and felt it complemented the lamb beautifully. It might be helpful to let people know, that they should ask the butcher to cut the shanks into pieces- (versus trying it at home with a chef’ knife) nice fall recipe!

    If you want to reduce the sauce further, sure, why not? So glad you liked the stew. ~Elise

  24. Georgia

    Elise — I’m writing this on Saturday of the “Blizzard of 2010/Super Bowl weekend”. Pre-blizzard, my husband and I labored over what to have on this snowy evening in front of a crackling fire. We settled on this one and it DELIVERED. It was deeply flavorful and the meat melted in the mouth. As for the roasted vegetable component, I’ve never heard of this technique of roasting vegetables separately then adding them to a stew, but it really worked well. I’d be interested in knowing if this technique is in any way traditional for a stew. Anyway, I would highly recommend to others to take this extra step, which I didn’t find to be much of a chore. Thanks for the recipe. It’s a keeper.

    Hi Georgia, roasting the vegetables separately is a chef technique for bringing out more of the flavor that you get when caramelization occurs from the roasting. So glad you agree it’s worth the effort! ~Elise

  25. Jeanne Morales

    I am from Sacramento however now live about 40 miles in a village from Guadajara Mexico. We have lamb shanks but no rutabagas, parsnips or turnips. Lots of carrots. I love the winter root veggies. What could I use instead? Also I would add a little of barley to the dish.

    If you don’t have root vegetables, I would just skip them. The lamb will still be great. ~Elise

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