Do you love lamb? Braised lamb shanks are the perfect hearty meal for cooler days.
What Are Lamb Shanks?
The shank is 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 the 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.
Tips on How to Cook Lamb Shanks
- Brown the shanks. If you skip this part, you'll be losing out on a lot of flavor.
- Don't rush it. Raising the temperature may cook the shanks more quickly, but it's the low and slow that make them so tender. Don't go above 350°F and be patient. You can even cook at 300°F, but your cook time will be longer.
- Cook to at least an internal temperature of 165°F, but it's fine to leave them in longer until the meat practically falls off the bone.
- Make sure to have a proper pot. An oven-proof, enamel-coated, cast iron Dutch oven with a lid is ideal for this recipe.
- Shanks only. Don't substitute leg of lamb or other tender cuts of meat.
Making Lamb Shanks Ahead of Time
This is a great recipe to make ahead of time because the flavors will meld together over time like a stew does. To make braised lamb shakes ahead of time, follow the recipe as directed, including stripping the meat from the bones.
Allow the dish cool and transfer it to a tightly covered container. Place in the refrigerator for up to 2 days. Reheat on the stovetop in the same pot you cooked it in until you heat the ingredients through and the meat comes to 165°F.
Freezing Braised Lamb Shanks
This recipe freezes well, although the potatoes may have a slightly different texture when it's defrosted. Freeze in a freezer safe zipper bag or a freezer safe airtight container for up to 3 months. Defrost in the refrigerator. Reheat on the stovetop until you heat the ingredients through and the meat comes to 165°F.
Sides to Serve with Braised Lamb
- Kale Caesar Salad with Creamy Parmesan Dressing
- French Green Beans with Butter and Herbs
- Spring Vegetable Salad with Mint Pesto
- No Knead Bread
- Potato Dinner Rolls
Braised Lamb Shanks
2 lamb shanks (3 to 3 1/2 pounds total), excess fat trimmed
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 medium yellow onion, chopped
2 carrots, chopped
2 celery ribs, chopped
4 medium potatoes, cut into 2-inch chunks
1 garlic clove, minced
1 1/4 cups chicken or beef stock
2 teaspoons fresh thyme, or 1 teaspoon dried
1 teaspoon fresh rosemary, 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 mint leaves
Mint leaves, for garnish
Preheat the oven:
Preheat the oven to 350° F.
Season the lamb:
Season the lamb 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, and celery:
Add onion, carrot and celery and sauté for 5 minutes, stirring often.
Add the potatoes, then the garlic, lamb, herbs, sherry, and 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 the stock and bring to simmer and 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.
Discard the bay leaf and strip the meat from bones:
Remove the bay leaf and discard. Remove the shanks, strip the meat from the bones and return the meat to the pan.
Serve with fresh mint leaves as garnish.