Do you love lamb? Braised lamb shanks are the perfect hearty meal for cooler days.
What Are Lamb Shanks?
The shank is the the part of the animal between the hoof and the knee, right below the leg of lamb cut. Because they get a lot of exercise (almost all lamb is raised grass fed on the range), the shanks can be rather tough. But because of that exercise, they also have the most wonderful flavor!
Tough cuts like lamb shanks lend themselves well to a low and slow braise. Long cooking at a low temperature is exactly what you need for meat that is falling-off-the-bone tender.
How to Make Braised Lamb Shanks
For this recipe we brown the lamb shanks first. Browning brings out even more of the flavor of the meat!
Next we sauté some onions, carrots, and celery. We add the lamb shanks, garlic, potatoes, herbs, sherry, and raisins. Why raisins? I love the way little sweet notes of the raisins make the overall flavors of the dish pop.
Then we add stock, bring the stew to a simmer, cover it and put it in the oven for the lamb to cook, low and slow for a couple of hours, until the shanks are beautifully tender and falling off the bone.
Braised Lamb Shanks
- 2 lamb shanks (3 to 3 1/2 pounds total), trimmed of excess fat
- 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
- 1 medium yellow onion, chopped
- 2 large carrots, chopped
- 2 celery stalks, chopped
- 3-4 medium potatoes, cut into 2-inch chunks
- 1 garlic clove, minced
- 1 1/4 cup chicken or beef stock
- 2 teaspoons fresh thyme, or 1 teaspoon dried
- 1 teaspoon fresh rosemary, chopped, or 1/2 teaspoon dried
- 1 teaspoon dried oregano
- 1 bay leaf
- Optional, and highly recommended:
- 3/4 cup raisins, soaked in 1/2 cup sherry for a couple hours
- 1/2 cup of fresh mint leaves
Preheat oven to 350° F:
Season lamb shanks with salt.
Brown the lamb shanks:
Heat the oil in a Dutch oven or an oven-proof, thick-bottomed, pot with a tight fitting cover on medium high heat on the stovetop. Working in batches if necessary, brown the lamb shanks in the pot on all sides. Remove shanks to a dish.
Sauté the onion, carrot, celery:
Add onion, carrot and celery and sauté for 5 minutes, stirring often.
Add potatoes, then garlic, lamb, herbs, sherry, raisins:
Add potatoes and cook another 2 minutes. Add the garlic, lamb shanks, and herbs (except for the mint). If using, add the sherry and raisins; bring the sherry to a boil and cook for 2 minutes.
Add stock, bring to simmer, put in oven:
Add the stock and bring to a simmer. Remove from heat, cover the pot and bake in the oven for 1 1/2 or 2 hours or until shanks are tender.
Strip meat from bones:
Remove the shanks, strip the meat from the bones and return the meat to the pan.
Serve with fresh mint leaves as garnish.