Italian-Style Lamb Shanks

Lamb shank
Eric Futran - Chefshots / Getty Images
Prep: 15 mins
Cook: 105 mins
Total: 2 hrs
Servings: 2
Nutrition Facts (per serving)
1312 Calories
75g Fat
11g Carbs
131g Protein
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Nutrition Facts
Servings: 2
Amount per serving
Calories 1312
% Daily Value*
Total Fat 75g 96%
Saturated Fat 27g 137%
Cholesterol 481mg 160%
Sodium 602mg 26%
Total Carbohydrate 11g 4%
Dietary Fiber 2g 9%
Total Sugars 3g
Protein 131g
Vitamin C 19mg 96%
Calcium 163mg 13%
Iron 11mg 61%
Potassium 1506mg 32%
*The % Daily Value (DV) tells you how much a nutrient in a food serving contributes to a daily diet. 2,000 calories a day is used for general nutrition advice.
(Nutrition information is calculated using an ingredient database and should be considered an estimate.)

Lamb shanks are a flavorful cut of the shin of the animal. Usually braised, as low and slow is what's best for this type of cut, these shanks make a wonderful and special dinner. The quick preparation time requires just 15 minutes, while the rest of the cooking process takes place in a dutch oven that needs only occasional supervision. Fall-off-the-bone and packed with fragrant aromas, these shanks are wonderful served over rice, mashed potatoes, pasta, or any side that can soak up the juices. Plan ahead, as the shanks need almost 2 hours on the stove, but the wait makes them even better. When it's time to eat, the meat flakes off easily and has the wonderfully concentrated flavors of tomatoes, onion, garlic, and wine. Garlic is what makes or breaks this preparation, so even if a whole head of garlic seems like a lot, trust us when we say not to skimp on it, as the pungent raw garlic becomes sweet and soft, adding a nutty touch to the meat.

When buying lamb shank, the standard is to get one pound per person, from which almost 8 ounces might be just meat (raw) that will give you a decent serving once cooked. When making shanks, it's usual to make sides that fill your plate with other ingredients, making the shank the star of the show but not the only part of your meal. Shanks are filled with connective tissue and that's why long periods of steady cooking are necessary to make them shine. Served in many cuisines all over the world, and cherished in the Mediterranean, Africa, and Middle East, shanks are budget-friendly because they require a lot of cooking to retrieve the juicy meats, whereas other pricier cuts are easily cooked in a lot less time. Their gamey flavor is delicious and whether cooked in the Dutch oven, in the oven, or even in a slow cooker, these cuts are a great addition to your recipe collection.

When it comes to the cooking wine for the shanks, don't splurge on your best red, but do use a wine that you might enjoy drinking because cheap wine might yield cheap results. Serve the shanks with gnocchi, spaetzle, pasta, or risotto along with roasted vegetables or a fresh green salad.

Ingredients

  • 2 pounds lamb shank

  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

  • 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt

  • 1 teaspoon ground black pepper

  • 1 sweet onion, sliced

  • 1/2 cup red wine

  • 1 head garlic, about 10 to 12 whole cloves; separated and peeled

  • 1 28-ounce can diced tomatoes

  • 1/2 cup water, or as needed

  • 1 tablespoon parsley, chopped

Steps to Make It

  1. Gather the ingredients.

  2. Rub lamb shanks with olive oil and season generously with salt and pepper.

  3. Heat a heavy Dutch oven. When hot, drizzle a thin layer of olive oil to coat the bottom. Sear the lamb shanks until browned and remove from the pot.

  4. To the same pot, add a teaspoon of olive oil and the sliced sweet onions. Toss to coat with the pan drippings. Reduce heat and cover.

  5. Sweat the onions until limp but not browned, stirring often.

  6. When they are limp, add the wine and cook for two minutes, scraping up any browned bits from the bottom of the pot.

  7. Add garlic cloves, tomatoes, and the water. Stir to combine.

  8. Return the lamb shanks to the pot.

  9. Reduce heat to low and simmer, turning lamb shanks occasionally, for 1 1/2 hours or until tender. Add additional water if the sauce becomes too thick.

  10. Serve braised lamb shanks with cooked pasta, rice, or mashed potatoes and sprinkle with parsley.

  11. Enjoy!

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