Braised lamb shanks are a wonderful dish to make if you love slow-cooked meat that's tender and falls off the bone. Lamb is already tender, but the shanks have a lot of connective tissue in them, and slow cooking breaks it down to give you succulent meat with a rich, flavorful liquid that you can then use for making a luscious sauce.
To make these braised lamb shanks you'll need a large Dutch oven or brazier — one that's big enough to accommodate the meat and stock, and safe for both stovetop and oven. Make sure it has a tight-fitting lid, too.
- 6 lamb shanks (1 pound each, excess fat removed)
- 1/4 cup canola oil (or other vegetable oil)
- 1 large onion (peeled and chopped)
- 2 medium ribs celery (chopped)
- 1 large carrot (peeled and chopped)
- 5 cloves garlic (peeled and slightly crushed)
- 1 cup tomatoes (canned diced tomatoes including liquid)
- 1 1/2 cups red wine
- 5 cups brown stock (or lamb stock)
- 4 sprigs thyme
- 1 to 2 sprigs rosemary
- 3 to 4 stems parsley
- 6 whole black peppercorns
- 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
- salt to taste (kosher)
Preheat oven to 325 F (165 C).
Pat any excess moisture off the lamb shanks with clean paper towels. This will enhance the browning in the next step.
In a heavy, cast-iron Dutch oven or brazier, heat the oil over high heat, then add the lamb shanks, and sear them thoroughly on all sides, using a pair of tongs to turn them. When you've got a nice brown crust on all sides of the meat, remove it from the pan, and set it aside.
Add half a cup of wine and scrape off all the roast-y bits on the bottom of the pan. Add the carrots, celery, onions, and garlic to the pot, and cook for 5 minutes or so, or until the onion is slightly translucent.
Now return the lamb to the pot, and add the diced tomato, the stock, the rest of the wine, and the bay leaf, thyme, rosemary, and the peppercorns. (You can tie the peppercorns into a cheesecloth bundle if you like so that you can retrieve them more easily later.) Heat on the stovetop until the liquid comes to a boil then cover with a tight-fitting lid, and transfer the whole thing to the oven.
Cook 3 hours, and turn the shanks once about halfway through. When the lamb is tender and the meat is pulling away from the bone, it's done.
Remove pot from the oven, remove the lamb shanks, and set them aside, covered, while you make the sauce.
You'll see a layer of fat on top of the braising liquid. We're going to use this fat to make a roux for the sauce. Skim off as much fat as you can, and save about 1/4 cup of it. Discard the rest, as it would make the sauce too greasy.
Heat the fat in a separate saucepan, then gradually stir in the flour until a paste forms. Heat for a few minutes, stirring, until the roux is a rich brown color.
Now return the remaining braising liquid to a boil, reduce to a simmer, and whisk in the roux. Reduce for about 15 minutes, then strain through a fine-mesh sieve, and season to taste with Kosher salt.
Arrange the lamb shanks on a warm plate (atop some mashed potatoes or creamy polenta if you like), sauce generously, and serve right away.