Simple braised lamb shanks
Before we start talking about these amazing lamb shanks, I’d like to share with you a change that I’m making. No, I’m not switching my format to rate the current Hollywood fashion faux pas, or make snarky comments about the latest foibles of the Real Housewives. Actually, in comparison, this news seems blas?. You see, I usually post a new recipe twice a week, but I’ve decided to add another day! Yay! — I think. I’ve been busy for the last few months trying to gain ground and put some posts in reserve and now I think (I hope) I’m ready. Three days a week (Monday, Wednesday, Friday). Gulp! Let’s see how it goes…
I’d like to continue on the comfort food theme that began on Monday. I asked readers to share their favorite comfort foods for this time of year. One reader, Lynne, mentioned, “anything that was cooked long and slow filling the house with enticing aromas”. This is it. Braised lamb shanks. It’s ridiculously easy to make since the oven does most of the work! Braising turns this tough and often overlooked cut into the most tender, flavorful, fork tender creation. Seriously.
I made this for dinner last week and Scott’s initial reaction was, “holy brontosaurus ribs!” Followed by, “We’ll never be able to eat all that.” By the end of the meal, he was sopping up the juices and the last of the veggies with a crust of bread and picking over the bones while telling me how “good that was”.
You’ll notice that there are only two shanks in my braise, while the recipe below calls for four. I’ve struggled with this. We are now empty nesters — with Emily having flown the coop back in June. I don’t want to make more food than we need, but I recognize that many of you have larger families and hey – you might want a shank all to yourself. So, I made just enough for Scott and I, but I’ve given you instructions to feed four. If you only need two – the recipe halves nicely and the math is easy!
Incidentally, for you crock-pot aficionados, this can easily be made in a slow-cooker. Prep the veggies and lamb the night before and put them into the crock vessel, then cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate. The next morning, just set it and forget it. Dinner will be ready when you get home – and the house will be filled with enticing aromas!
braised lamb shanks
- 4 lamb shanks about 1 1/2 pounds
- 4 tablespoons olive oil
- 4 carrots peeled and diced
- 4 stalks celery diced
- 4 shallots peeled, thinly sliced
- 16 ounces crimini or button mushrooms sliced
- 2 cup low sodium beef broth
- 1 cup red wine
- 4 tablespoons tomato paste
- 4 cloves garlic minced
- 2 bay leaves
- 4-5 sprigs thyme tied with kitchen string
- salt and pepper to taste
This dish can be made in the oven - or in a crock pot.
For the oven method
Preheat to 300 degrees.
In a large dutch oven or heavy pot, heat 2 tablespoons oil over medium high heat. Add lamb shanks in two batches and sear on all sides, until browned turning with a pair of tongs. About 7-9 minutes each. Transfer lamb to a tray.
Add remaining olive oil to pot and stir in carrots and celery. Cook until slightly softened about 5 minutes. Add mushrooms and shallots and cook an additional 4-5 minutes, until tender.
Stir in broth, wine and tomato paste, until well combined. Add thyme, garlic and bay leaves. Transfer lamb shanks back to pot, nestling them into the broth and vegetable mixture.
Cover tightly with lid and place pot in the oven. Braise for 2 1/2 hours, or until lamb is fork tender.
Season with salt and pepper as needed.
For the crock pot method
Brown the lamb as instructed above.
Add the carrots, celery, shallots, mushrooms beef broth, red wine, tomato paste, garlic, bay leaves and thyme to the crock pot. Stir to combine.
Nestle the lamb shanks into the vegetables and broth. (cover and refrigerate until ready to cook, if you're prepping this the night before.)
Place slow-cooker vessel into the crock pot cooker. Cover with lid and set the slow cooker to low. Cook for 6-8 hours.