Lamb Shanks with Butternut Squash

Rich and hearty lamb shank and butternut squash stew, served with parsley, garlic, and lemon gremolata.

  • Yield: Serves 4 (or up to 6 if you remove the bones from the shanks before serving).

Ingredients

  • 6 Tbsp olive oil
  • 4 Lamb shanks (1 lb each)
  • Salt and freshly ground pepper
  • Cloves separated from an entire head of garlic, unpeeled
  • 6 celery ribs, coarsely chopped
  • 4 carrots, coarsely chopped
  • 1 large onion, coarsely chopped
  • 1/2 cup tomato paste
  • 3 cups dry red wine
  • 6 cups chicken stock (use gluten-free stock for gluten-free version)
  • Two 1x3-inch strips of orange zest
  • 3 lbs butternut squash, peeled and cut into 1 inch cubes
  • 4 Tbsp chopped parsley
  • 4 cloves of garlic, peeled and minced
  • 4 teaspoons finely grated lemon zest
  • 1 1/3 cups cooked cannellini beans

Method

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1 Heat 4 Tbsp of olive oil in a large cast-iron enameled casserole. Season the lamb shanks with salt and pepper, add them to the casserole and brown well on all sides, working in batches if necessary, about 8 minutes. Transfer the shanks to a plate.

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2 Preheat the oven to 350°F and arrange two racks in the oven, one to hold the casserole and one to hold a baking sheet with the squash. Add the unpeeled garlic cloves, celery, carrots and onion to the casserole. Cook over moderate heat, stirring occasionally, until golden brown, about 8 minutes. Add the tomato paste and cook, stirring, until glossy, about 2 minutes. Add the wine; boil over high heat until the liquid is very syrupy, about 15 minutes.

3 Return the shanks to the casserole and add the stock and orange zest. Bring to a simmer. Cover the casserole and braise the shanks in the oven for about 2 hours, or until the meat is very tender (when we cooked this dish it took 3 hours); turn the shanks from time to time as they cook.

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4 Meanwhile, on a large rimmed baking sheet, toss the squash with the remaining 2 Tbsp of olive oil. Season with salt and pepper and bake in the oven (along with the lamb) 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 oven 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 casserole, season with salt and pepper and bring to a boil over moderately high heat. Add the lamb shanks and squash; simmer just until warmed through. Add the cannellini beans, cover and remove from heat. Let stand for a few minutes to allow for the flavors to blend.

8 Spoon the vegetables and sauce into large shallow bowls and set the lamb shanks on top. Garnish with the gremolata and serve.

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Comments

  1. Robyn

    Hi Elise

    As you celebrate mid-summer and Independence Day of course it is mid-winter on Waiheke. A friend broke her leg yesterday and after helping her get to the doctor and x-rays here then over to the city for treatment (no surgery as the local doctor thought there might be, she came home with a cast). I took the lambshanks she had in her fridge, brought some more for my house and followed your recipe, to deliver her ‘meals on wheels’ today. Delicious! That sure cheered her up. Thank you.

  2. Mike

    Looks like a delicious winter dish! I’ve gotten hooked on braising as of late and after osso bucco, I could definitely go for another braised shank kind of meal.

  3. Kylee

    Wow – that looks so so GOOD!

    I wish my husband liked lamb – I grew up on it (I’m from New Zealand – 3 million people, 20 million sheep – yep, we eat it a lot)

    He can’t even stand the smell of it cooking!!

    I will just eat lamb vicariously through you. That ok??

    :)

    Love your blog, it’s great to read the posts – and the pictures rock.

    Oh, and to the lady who commented above me – I spent my very first years on Waiheke !

    Kylee

  4. Lisa

    Oh, this is gorgeous; I didn’t see it the first time around. I have some (unsmoked) pork shanks from “my” farmer, and I’m going to do something like this with them (“pork-o-buco”). The beans alongside is a perfect pairing, in my book.

  5. katie

    That looks and sounds fantastic. Bookmarked for next fall when I have butternut squash again!
    But…. I got the first spring asparagus yesterday. Think spring!

  6. Farmgirl Susan

    You know I love when you post lamb recipes, Elise! This one looks wonderful, and completely different than the way I usually cook lamb shanks. My lamb-crazy mother is coming to visit the farm next month and shanks are her favorite cut. I have a bunch of butternut squash in the pantry (they sure do store well) so we just might have to give your recipe a go. When she visited last fall I think we had lamb 7 times in 10 days. Or maybe it was 10 times in 7 days. Meanwhile our first baby lambs of the year should be arriving any day! ; )

  7. Sue

    I love lamb yet as a younger woman I hated it & the smell, now I can’t get enough! This recipe was awesome, love butternut squash too. Was not as time consuming as it looks, I prepped all the veggies the night before, that was a big help. I could only get 3 shanks @ the store so also picked up a center cut lamb steak which I buy often to grill. Still could of used a little more, maybe 2 more shanks so as to have left overs. I think I would add 1 more can of beans & then thicken the gravy (broth) so as it would be thicker like a stew. The broth was absolutely delicious. I was also thinking of adding some potatoes cubed. This would be more like a stew. The broth alone is more like a soup but I like the added thickness & the taste of stew. Now, all you need is a nice fresh loaf of your favorite bakery bread, awesome. This gets a #5 in my book.

  8. Emily

    Elise, let me just say. I have had lamb shanks. And I have loved lamb shanks. And when I managed to sneak lamb shanks into the cart under my unsuspecting voice-of-reason boyfriend’s nose, I was thrilled to finally try out this recipe.

    The lamb was luscious, buttery delight on a bone. I halved the recipe since we’re only two and added a handful of cranberries and a sprig of rosemary; it was just DIVINE.

    But I have to be honest. The butternut squash just stole the show because (confession) I have never had it before. It was delicious!

    I am now on a butternut squash kick which will undoubtedly culminate in mashed butternut squash: what sweet potatoes always should have been and never were.

    Thank you so much for introducing me to this new, wonderful squash.

    You, Elise, are my culinary hero!

  9. Roland

    Excellent recipe. I made two changes: 1) I used lamb shank steaks because they were on special at my local market. These worked great and they were tender in about 80 minutes. 2) Because my oven is small, I couldn’t simultaneously cook the lamb shanks and the squash. My solution was to grill the squash. To do so I peeled the squash, then cut the squash in half lengthwise, maintaining the shape of the squash. Then I cut each half into quarters before putting the pieces on the grill. This worked great.