Lamb Shanks

Braised Lamb ShanksOut Like a Lamb
If spring could have an official meat, I think it would be lamb. It’s the first thing that pops into most people’s mind when thinking about spring cooking. What constitutes spring cooking though can be different from year to year as sometimes it’s eighty-degree grilling weather and other times, like this year, it’s raining buckets and in some places, you’re buried under twelve feet of snow.

When the weather is cold, braising is the way to go. And, there are few things better than melt-in-your-mouth lamb shanks. Bonus, they won’t drain your wallet.

Lamb shanks come from the lower section of the legs. The meat of the shank can be very tough—since this is an area of the animal that gets a lot of work. For this reason, braising and other slow cooking methods are essential for a fall of the bone result.

The shanks also contain quite a bit of collagen—a great benefit because the collagen acts as a natural thickener for the braising liquid which can be turned into a succulent sauce.

The cooking time of lamb shanks means that these are not a good choice for weeknight dinners. However, with a little mid-week planning and all the possible lamb shank recipes available online or in print, you have time to plan a really fantastic Sunday meal. And, any leftovers are perfect for lunch the next day.

Here is one of our favorite recipes for braised lamb shanks.

Braised Lamb Shanks with Balsamic, Herbs, and Spices
Adapted from Food 52

1/4 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt, plus more to taste
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
1 teaspoon ground coriander
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1/8 teaspoon ground cinnamon
2 lamb shanks
2 tablespoons olive oil
4 cloves garlic
1 large yellow onion, diced
3 carrots, peeled and cut into chunks
4 celery ribs, cut into chunks
2 whole sprigs fresh rosemary
2 whole sprigs fresh thyme
Zest of 1/2 a large organic orange
1/2 cup good balsamic vinegar
1 cup white wine
4 cups chicken stock


Toast the spices
In a dry skillet, toast the ground coriander, cumin, and cinnamon over low heat until they begin to give off a nice aroma. Quickly transfer the toasted spices to a bowl to stop the heat.

Prepare the lamb shanks
Whisk the flour, salt, black pepper, and toasted spices in a large bowl. Roll the lamb shanks in the flour mixture until they are coated.

Heat a small Dutch oven (3 to 6 quarts) over medium-high heat and sear the lamb shanks on all sides until a good crust forms (about 8 to 10 minutes). Transfer the lamb shanks to a plate.

Preheat your oven to 325° F.

Scrape any crusty bits from the lamb from the bottom of the Dutch oven to prevent them from burning.

Prepare the vegetables
Place the Dutch oven back on the stove, over medium heat, and add the garlic, onion, carrots, celery, rosemary, thyme, and orange zest. Cook, stirring occasionally until the onions are soft and translucent (about 10 to 15 minutes).

Stir in the vinegar and cook until it has evaporated slightly and thickened further (about 10 to 12 minutes).

Braise the lamb shanks
Return the lamb shanks to the pot and pour in the white wine and chicken stock. Season the broth with salt to taste, cover the pot, and place it in the oven until the meat is very tender and falling off the bones (about 2 1/2 to 3 hours).

Remove the shanks from the pot, place them on a serving platter covering them with foil to keep them warm. Strain the liquid into a saucepan discarding the solids.

Prepare the sauce
Cook the sauce over medium heat until it has reduced by half. It should yield about 1-1/2 cups (about 10 to 15 minutes).

Season the sauce to taste and pour it over the lamb shanks.

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