To me, there are certain meals that exude the meaning “comfort food”. Casseroles, stews, and braised meats make my list. If you have followed this blog for awhile, you will know that I have not always been a fan of lamb. It took finding a good, local source of pastured and humanely raised lamb for me to get on board. Now I actually really love the taste of lamb.
I make this recipe every time I pick up lamb shanks from our farm share. It comes out perfect every time! The recipe is a variation of a lamb shanks recipe found in the April/May 2011 edition of Fine Cooking. Like I do with most recipes, I tweaked it to make it my own and add in more flavor. If you get your hands on some lambs shanks, give this a try. It’s not complicated and you will be a happy camper come dinner time.
Braised Lamb Shanks
- 3 pounds lamb shanks
- Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
- 3 leeks, halved lengthwise and cleaned, then cut into 1 inch slices
- 6 carrots, cut into 1 inch chunks
- 6 garlic cloves, smashed with the slide of a knife
- Grass-fed butter or ghee
- 1/4 cup dry vermouth (Optional – just add more stock if you want to skip the alcohol)
- 2 cups homemade stock (I used lamb, but feel free to use whatever you have on hand – chicken or beef works just fine)
- Zest of one large orange (Use a vegetable peeler to get 1×3 inch slices of peel)
- 4 sprigs of fresh rosemary
- 2 bay leaves
What to do:
Pre-heat the oven to 300 degrees.
In a large Dutch oven, melt a few Tablespoons of butter or ghee. Season the lamb shanks with sea salt and freshly ground black pepper. Working in batches if needed, brown the shanks on all sides (4-5 minutes per side). Remove the shanks to a plate and add the leeks, carrots, and garlic to the Dutch oven. If the pan is a little dry, add more butter or ghee. Saute the veggies for 7-8 minutes, just until the leeks soften up a little. Deglaze the pan with the vermouth or 1/4 cup stock. Use a wooden spoon to scrap all the little brown bits off of the bottom of the pan. Add in the orange zest, rosemary, and bay leaves. Nestle the shanks amongst the vegetables and pour 2 cups of stock over the meat. Bring to a boil, cover the Dutch oven and place it in the oven for 3 hours. Halfway through the cooking time, use tongs to turn the shanks and ladle some of the stock over the meat. Note that you will not have enough liquid to cover the meat, which is why it is important to have a covered cooking vessel. The steam will condense on the lid and drip back down on the meat, concentrating with time and giving the meat a rich flavor and fall off the bone tenderness.
After 3 hours, you can skim any extra fat off the surface of the veggies. I didn’t bother as my lamb was very lean and I don’t fear the fat! You may wish to remove the rosemary stems and bay leaves before serving, but go ahead and eat the orange zest – it will melt in your mouth.
Serve the shanks topped with veggies and sauce.