This easy recipe for Slow-braised Lamb Shanks results in delicious fall-off-the-bone tender meat. Perfect for a dinner party because it can be made at least a couple of days in advance, leaving both you and your kitchen, stress-free.
The making of Slow-Braised Lamb Shanks
I love making slow-cooked slow-braised meats for dinner parties. The main reason is, the work can be done in advance leaving your kitchen clean and you available to enjoy your guests. This recipe for Slow-Braised Lamb Shanks is one of my favorites. It's not only impressive to serve, but it tastes so delicious. And it's mostly hands-free.
If you have never done a slow-braise, you really need to try it.
Ingredients for Slow-Braised Lamb Shanks
- 4 whole lamb shanks - that's if you are feeding 4. If feeding more, get more.
- A whole lemon
- Garlic - about 8 large cloves or 1 tablespoon chopped for you measurers
- Diced tomatoes in juice - 1 (28-ounce can)
- 1 ½ cups dry white wine - an unoaked chardonnay will work here, or a Fume Blanc
- 1 ½ cups chicken stock, homemade or storebought. I always use low-sodium when using storebought
- 2 sprigs FRESH rosemary
- Herbs de Provence - a combination of dried basil, thyme, lavender, and fennel seed. Italian seasoning mix will do in a pinch.
Tips for Success
- The number one trick for success - brown the meat well. I mean it. You have to really really get a good crust on the meat before adding any liquid.
- Be sure to pat your meat dry with paper towels before you cook it so it doesn't steam, but browns,
- Ensure both the pot and the oil are hot before adding the meat.
- When browning the meat, don't mess around with it too much. Let the meat sit and brown, when it's brown enough, turn and brown the other sides. If the meat sticks to the pot when you go to try to turn it, it's not ready to be turned. Give it a few more minutes before you try again. When ready the meat will come off easily from the pot.
- A Dutch oven, cast iron, or a stainless steel pot will give you much better browning results than a non-stick pot; which also needs to be kept at a lower temperature due to the coating.
(OK...I know, these are NOT lamb shanks. They are beef short-ribs.
BUT this is the color of brown you are looking for.)
As I said, this recipe for Slow-Braised Lamb Shanks is great for a dinner party because you can make it in advance, it's actually BETTER if made a few days ahead of time because the flavors have time to mingle. And the fat hardens on the top so you can easily remove it prior to reheating.
Ways to Cook Slow-Braised Lamb Shanks
- In the Oven - This is my preferred method as it makes the house smell so great. It does take about 3 hours to properly cook in the oven. When slow-braising in the oven I like to put a piece of parchment paper over the top of my ingredients to keep them moist.
- Stove-Top - This method will give you great results, but you do have to be a bit more hands-on than the oven-method to check that the shanks are not sticking and that there is sufficient liquid in the pot at all times. I also find that many stoves are not happy with the "very low" temperature setting so make certain you go as low as you can without the flame going out.
- Crock-Pot or Slow-Cooker - Once the meat has been browned, transfer it to your crock-pot or slow-cooker and cook according to the manufactures direction for time and temperature. Generally 8 hours on low, or 4 hours on high. If you have a multi-use pot, the plus is you can brown the meat in the pot so only one to dirty.
- Pressure Cooker - Whether Instant Pot or a standard pressure cooker, you should be able to both brown and cook slow-braised lamb shanks in a hurry. That makes them quick braised lamb shanks perhaps? But it will only take an hour.
But however you cook it, make sure to BROWN THE MEAT WELL BEFORE YOU START.
Can I say that again? Brown the meat well before you start!
Reheating and Storage
- To reheat - Remove the pot from the refrigerator (yes, you can keep them in the pot once it cools just a bit). Place in a 300º oven for about an hour, or until hot.
- Store leftover lamb shanks in a freezer-safe container, along with any juice, for up to 6 months. Even better if, after you freeze them you transfer them to a seal-a-meal bag and remove all air. Then you can store, without any loss of flavor, for up to a year, possibly longer. Thaw in the refrigerator overnight, then reheat as stated above.
Wine Recommendation: With the deep rich flavors of this stew, any red wine will work; but a California Cabernet Sauvignon is perfect with its deep notes of dark fruit and herbs such as bay leaf and rosemary. Other great choices are Malbec, Merlot or Cab Franc.
Slow-Braised Lamb Shanks
- 4 lamb shanks
- Salt and pepper
- 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
- 1 lemon thinly sliced, seeds removed
- 8 cloves garlic sliced
- 1 28-ounce can diced tomatoes, coarsely chopped
- 1 ½ cups dry white wine
- 1 ½ cups homemade or low sodium chicken stock
- 2 sprigs fresh rosemary
- 1 teaspoon or to taste herbs de Provence - a combination of dried basil, thyme, lavender, and fennel. If unavailable, an Italian herb blend could be substituted.
- 2 teaspoons cornstarch mixed with 2 teaspoons cold water also known as a slurry
- Dry the shanks with a paper towel (dry meat browns, wet meat steams); season generously with salt and pepper. Heat the oil in a large Dutch oven and brown the shanks well on all sides; do this in batches so the meat browns well. Once the shanks are browned, remove them to a platter and lower the heat to medium-low. Add the lemon slices and let them just start to brown; add the garlic, tomatoes, white wine, chicken stock, rosemary sprigs, and the herbs de Provence. Return the shanks to the pot. Bring to a simmer; cover and cook very slowly on the stovetop or in a 325 °F oven for 3 hours. Or you can put this in your crockpot and cook all day on low. (If you are in a hurry, you can also pressure cook these for 1 hour).
- After your shanks are cooked, remove the rosemary sprigs (all of the leaves will have fallen off); remove the lamb shanks and put them on a platter, cover with foil and place in the warm oven (heat off) while you prepare the sauce.
- Pour the "slurry" into the simmering liquid and stir until the sauce thickens. Serve the shanks and sauce over polenta, mashed potatoes or noodles.