Lamb Shank Stew with Root Vegetables

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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 lamb 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

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  • 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 Brown the lamb shanks: 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 garlic, celery, carrots, onion: 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.

3 Add tomato paste, wine: 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.

4 Return shanks to pan, add stock, zest, then simmer: 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.

5 Roast root vegetables: 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.

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

7 Strain sauce: 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.

8 Combine sauce, lamb meat, root vegetables: 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.

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Showing 4 of 35 Comments

  • Edith

    This is a delicious stew and was a good way to use some of the root vegetables from our winter CSA share. The only change I made was in step 6 rather than pushing the vegetables through a strainer, I put them in a food processor along with some of the broth. This thickened the sauce and retained all the flavor. Just a thought.

  • Peter

    Could I do this as a root vegetable stew sans the lamb or any other meat? From the ingredients, I suspect you could still get bold flavor without meat.

  • Elizabeth Duckworth

    My mother taught me this recipe back in 1960 when she was helping me learn to fix inexpensive meals for my husband and myself when we were going to college and living in the housing for married students.
    The only thing that has changed is the price of Lamb Shanks. It once was about the cheapest meat you could buy at a cost of about 19 cents per shank, plus so many people had a small garden, the rest could be free, especially if you invited them for dinner!
    55 years later I am still fixing this dish, my husband is still enjoying it, my mother is still alive. I think the only thing I do a little differently is when I add the meat back to the pot to simmer and warm up (step 7) I then add my gremolata on top of the meat, it seems that just those few minutes will take away the “rawness” of the garlic and lemon, for us it works better.

  • patricia

    made this using a pressure cooker. turned out great! thank you for this recipe

  • 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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