Braised lamb shanks, with their succulent meat that falls off the bone and a rich, aromatic sauce, are a true culinary indulgence. This classic dish showcases the artistry of slow cooking, tenderizing the lamb to perfection while infusing it with a symphony of flavors. In this article, we’ll explore the step-by-step process of creating this gastronomic delight in your own kitchen.
4 lamb shanks
Salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 large onion, finely chopped
4 cloves garlic, minced
2 carrots, peeled and diced
2 celery stalks, diced
2 cups red wine (such as Merlot or Cabernet Sauvignon)
1 can (14 ounces) crushed tomatoes
2 cups beef or vegetable broth
2 sprigs fresh rosemary
2 sprigs fresh thyme
2 bay leaves
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1 teaspoon paprika
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon brown sugar
Fresh parsley, chopped (for garnish)
1. Preheat and Prepare: Preheat your oven to 325°F (163°C). Season the lamb shanks generously with salt and freshly ground black pepper, ensuring they are well coated on all sides.
2. Sear the Lamb Shanks: In a large, oven-safe pot or Dutch oven, heat the olive oil over medium-high heat. Add the lamb shanks and sear them until they are browned on all sides, about 3-4 minutes per side. Bring out the shanks from the pot and set them aside.
3. Prepare the Aromatics: In the same pot, add the chopped onion, minced garlic, diced carrots, and diced celery. Sauté the vegetables until they are softened and aromatic, about 5-6 minutes.
4. Deglaze the Pot: Pour in the red wine, scraping the bottom of the pot with a wooden spoon to release any flavorful brown bits. Let the wine simmer and reduce for about 5 minutes, allowing the alcohol to evaporate and intensify the flavors.
5. Create the Flavorful Base: Add the crushed tomatoes, beef or vegetable broth, fresh rosemary, thyme, bay leaves, dried oregano, paprika, ground cumin, and brown sugar. Stir well to combine, creating a rich and aromatic sauce.
6. Braise the Lamb: Return the seared lamb shanks to the pot, nestling them into the sauce. Ensure the shanks are partially submerged but not completely covered. Close the pot with a lid and transfer it to the preheated oven.
7. Slow Cook to Perfection: Let the lamb shanks braise in the oven for 2.5 to 3 hours. During this time, the meat will become tender and flavorful, absorbing the aromatic essence of the sauce.
8. Serve and Garnish: Once the lamb shanks are fork-tender and falling off the bone, carefully remove them from the pot. Remove the bay leaves, rosemary, and thyme sprigs. Taste and adjust the sauce seasoning if necessary. Plate the lamb shanks, spoon the sauce over the top, and garnish with freshly chopped parsley for a burst of color and freshness.
Braised lamb shanks are best enjoyed with creamy mashed potatoes, polenta, or crusty bread to soak up the luscious sauce. This culinary masterpiece is a testament to the art of slow cooking, resulting in a dish that will impress your guests and delight your taste buds. So, gather your ingredients, embrace the aromatic journey, and savor the extraordinary flavors of homemade braised lamb shanks.