Compositions for Dining

Braised Lamb Shanks

Lamb is the van Food family’s favorite protein, even when the Kinder were very young, proving that starting to train the palates when young can sometimes work. No guarantees, though. My 100% success rate on lamb has to be tempered by only achieving 25% with mushrooms.

This is just another example of how the not-well-to-do learned to take a humble chunk of meat and turn it into a meal anyone can be proud to serve, for every day or the most special of occasions. Lamb shanks, with all their collagens and connective tissues, look very underwhelming compared to a glamorous frenched rack of ribs, but long, wet braising creates unsurpassed flavors at half the cost of that rack. 

Unfortunately, each butchered animal yields only two shanks (the hind legs are turned into, well, legs), so finding four can be a bit of a chore. Like oxtail, I try to snatch them up when I find them and stuff them, kicking, into the freezer rather than wait until we are going to cook them to do the hunting and gathering. See what I did there? That joke’s definitely got legs.

Making a humble cut of meat rich.
Authored by: Ludwig van Food
Estimated Cost: $20
Difficulty: Moderate
Suggested Beverage: Rioja, Zinfandel
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Prep Time 15 mins
Cook Time 4 hrs 30 mins
Total Time 4 hrs 45 mins
Course Dinner
Cuisine Mediterranean
Servings 4 people
Calories 590

Equipment and Supplies

Ingredients
 

  • 4 tablespoons olive oil, divided
  • 4 lamb shanks
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 cups carrots, coarsely chopped
  • 2 cups coarsely chopped parsnips
  • 2 red bell peppers, chopped and stem and seeds removed
  • 1 large white onion, chopped
  • cups red wine, (Pinot Noir is great)
  • ½ cup beef stock
  • 15 ounce can San Marzano crushed tomatoes
  • 3 bay leaves
  • 2 sprigs fresh rosemary
  • 2 teaspoons juniper berries, ground
  • ¾ teaspoon sea salt
  • 1 teaspoon black pepper
  • 2 tablespoons arrowroot, powder

Method
 

Dutch oven method

  • Preheat the oven to 300 degrees.
  • Heat 2 tablespoons of olive oil in a 6-7 quart Dutch oven over medium heat. Add the shanks and give them a hard sear on all sides. Remove the shanks to a plate and don’t you even think about draining the fat.
    4 tablespoons olive oil, 4 lamb shanks
  • Toss the garlic, onion, carrots, parsnips, red peppers, and onion into the Dutch oven and sauté them until tender, about 5 minutes.
    4 cloves garlic, 2 cups carrots, 2 cups coarsely chopped parsnips, 2 red bell peppers, 1 large white onion
  • Add the wine and scrape any brown bits off of the bottom with a silicone spatula. Put the shanks back in, add the remaining ingredients, cover the Dutch oven and transfer it to the oven. Cook for 4 hours, removing the cover for the last half hour.
    1½ cups red wine, ½ cup beef stock, 15 ounce can San Marzano crushed tomatoes, 3 bay leaves, 2 sprigs fresh rosemary, 2 teaspoons juniper berries, ¾ teaspoon sea salt, 1 teaspoon black pepper
  • If the braising liquid is not as thick as you would prefer, remove the shanks to a plate and cover with foil. Put the Dutch oven back on the stove over medium heat, scoop about ¼ cup.of the liquid out and mix the arrowroot powder in to create a slurry. Slowly add the slurry in while stirring with a silicone whisk until the sauce sits, begs, and rolls over in your preferred thickness.
    2 tablespoons arrowroot
  • Serve over egg noodles, basmati rice, or couscous.

Instant Pot method

  • Add 2 tablespoons of oil to the instant pot and set to sear. When heated up, add two shanks and sear them hard on all sides, about 2 minutes each side. Remove to a plate and repeat with the remaining 2 shanks. Remove these shanks to the plate, too. Don’t you dare drain the fats.
  • Add the remaining oil to the pot and let it heat up. Toss in the carrots, parsnips, red peppers, and onion and sauté until soft.
  • Pour in the wine and broth and turn the heat off. Cue in the remaining ingredients, cover and cook at high pressure for 40 minutes. Allow the pressure to reduce to normal, take out the shanks and cover them with foil.
  • Return the instant pot to sear and thicken the liquid, uncovered, 8-10 minutes. If you are in a hurry, scoop ¼ cup of sauce out, add 2 tablespoons of arrowroot powder to make a slurry, return to the pot and stir about 5 minutes until thick. Plate the shanks and cover with some of the
  • Return the instant pot to sear and thicken the liquid, uncovered, 8-10 minutes. If you are in a hurry, scoop ¼ cup of sauce out, add 2 tablespoons of arrowroot powder to make a slurry, return to the pot and stir about 5 minutes until thick. Plate the shanks and cover with some of the sauce.
  • Serve over egg noodles, basmati rice, or couscous.

Slow cooker method

  • Not many people have a slow cooker big enough to contain this full recipe, but if you do or are making fewer servings, here is a good way to have dinner cooking overnight and have fewer things to fret over the day of serving.
  • Heat oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Sear the shanks on all sides, then remove to the slow cooker. Turn the slow cooker on to Low.
  • Sautee the carrots, onion, red peppers, and parsnips in the skillet until soft and transfer all, including the liquids, to the slow cooker.
  • Set the cooker to Low, cover, and Let It Be overnight.
  • Serve over egg noodles, basmati rice or couscous.

Private Notes

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