Braised Lamb Shanks

Total Time:
5 hr 50 min
20 min
2 hr 30 min
3 hr

4 servings

  • Extra-virgin olive oil
  • 4 lamb shanks (each about 1 1/4 pounds; 1 shank is a portion)
  • Kosher salt
  • 1 large Spanish onion or 2 small yellow onions, cut into 1-inch dice
  • 3 carrots, peeled and cut into 1/2-inch dice
  • 3 celery ribs, cut into 1/2-inch dice
  • 4 cloves garlic
  • 1 (12-ounce) can tomato paste
  • 2 cups hearty red wine
  • 2 tablespoons finely chopped rosemary leaves
  • 10 to 12 thyme branches tied together in a bundle
  • 3 to 4 cups water
  • 4 bay leaves
  • Gremolata, recipe follows
  • Gremolata:
  • 1 orange, zested
  • 1 lemon, zested
  • 1/4 cup finely chopped parsley leaves
  • 1 small garlic clove, minced
  • 2 tablespoons freshly grated horseradish

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.

Coat a large Dutch oven generously with olive oil and bring to a high heat. Season the shanks generously with salt and add them to the pan. Brown well on all sides. This is an incredibly important step; do not rush it.

Meanwhile, puree the onions, carrots, celery and garlic in a food processor until it becomes a coarse paste. Remove and set aside.

Remove the shanks from the pan to a sheet tray. Discard the excess fat from the pan. Add a little more oil to coat the bottom of the pan and add the pureed veggies. Season with salt, to taste. Saute the veggies until they are very brown and aromatic, about 20 minutes. The brown veggies should form a sort of crust on the bottom of the pan, do not let this burn; it is where a lot of the flavor is! Don't rush this step either, since this is where you will develop the brown color and flavor.

Add the tomato paste and brown for 5 minutes. Stir in the wine, chopped rosemary and thyme bundle. Stir frequently and cook until the wine has reduced by about half.

Add the shanks back to the pot and pour in 3 to 4 cups of water. The shanks should be submersed, if they are not, add more water. Add the bay leaves to the pan, cover and put in the preheated oven. The cooking time will be about 2 1/2 to 3 hours. Turn the shanks over about halfway through the cooking time. Check the shanks every 45 minutes or so. If the liquid has reduced too much add more water. Defat as you go.

Remove the lid during the last 30 minutes of cooking time for maximum browning. When the shanks are done the meat should be incredibly tender and flavorful. Transfer to serving plates and garnish with Gremolata. Serve with Hard Polenta Cakes, if desired,

Call yourself a superstar!!!


In a small bowl, combine all ingredients and set aside until ready to use.

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    113 Reviews
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    This is just a really good recipe for lamb shanks. Have cooked it before and will cook it again.
    The dish was tasty and smelled wonderful while cooking. We served it over pappardelle, a nice wide egg noodle. The recipe seemed unnecessarily complicated. It took a long time to prep and the cooking time was too long for an evening but too short for an all-day cook while you're at work. It seemed like a restaurant recipe that someone attempted to adapt for a home cook without trying it. Pureeing the vegetables and then adding the tomato paste meant that it was almost impossible to keep them from burning, especially at 400. Besides creating a hellish mess in our pot, the burnt bits added an unpleasant bitterness. The resulting texture of the sauce was like baby food. Lamb shanks stand up well to a long cooking time so next time we'll leave the veggies in a small dice, reduce the temp after browning the shanks, and stretch out the cooking time, more "Nonna" style. We disagreed on the tomato-iness of the sauce, so might end up trying a little less tomato paste.
    Followed recipe and agree that there's way too much tomato paste in the recipe. Sauce was awful. Shanks were good, but in that sauce, was inedible. Husband hated it.
    I made this a few years back, and I believe i did only use half the paste and pureed some tomatoes, i also added a little bit of vinegar (mom told me it would tenderize the meat). Half way through cooking I found the sauce to be too soupy so I added in rice, some small red potatoes, and some baby carrots. My boyfriend absolutely loved it!  
    I was just going to ask will it make a differnce on cooking time if i cook it at 350? the dutch oven i have now only goes up to 350 degrees?
    I always like to check back with Anne's recipes when I find new ones; I just received my copy of Mary Ann Esposito's "Ciao Italia" and picked up some Lamb Shanks at half price (sell by date :-). So, I made Mary Ann's Roman Lamb Abbacchio al Forno, but with Anne's browned (minced not pureed) veggies, with 2 Cups decent Chardonnay NOT RED, no tomato paste, 1 T each toasted Cumin and Corriander seeds (ground) and added the water per Anne's braising instructions. 
    It doesn't count as a fusion, because both recipes were Italian; but, since I love Cumin and Corriander together with Lamb, I guess it's at least a meditarranean treatment :-)
    This is delicious! Took me longer than the stated times, but it is good. Browning definitely the key to both the lamb shanks and veggies, adds the next depth of flavour! Used half the tomato paste as stated and whizzed the veggies in my Vitamix in seconds. Thanks for the great recipe.
    I followed the recipe as written, using a full bodied Chianti. It came out delicious. Next time, I'll try it with 1/2 the tomato paste.
    One of our absolute favorites! I make this about 4 times a year and never had any desire to change anything. Bravo Chef Burrell
    One of the best dishes I have ever made, and I have cooked a lot of food in my life! I did decrease the tomato paste by half and it was just the right amount. For the leftovers, I pulled the meat from the bone and cut it into bite-size pieces. Then sauteed some mushrooms with shallots, white wine and thyme, added to lamb with some heavy cream, and made a wonderful sauce for some pasta. So, so good!
    I made this last night for dinner. I only used 6oz of tomato paste which was enough. but I was not really excited about this dish to me it just didn't have allot of flavor. it was ok but just reminded me of a pot roast.
    I made this last night. It was delicious. I added all 12 ozs of tomato paste and found that using the cuisinart to pulse the vegetables into a paste was extremely important in the success of this recipe. It would not have been the same had I minced the veggies. I took the entire 20 minutes to cook the paste and get it brown in color. The veggie paste gave the sauce a texture that was like a ragu. It was not bitter at all (after it continued to cook and brown. The wine might have made it bitter, but it cooks down and the bitterness leaves it. Instead of water I added a combination of chicken stock and water. When ever you braise, there will always be grease in the sauce. It was super easy to remove the grease as it sat right on top of the sauce. I served it with the bone on the meat on top of Papparedelle noodles. The bones are so massive, I think next time I will just take the meat off and mix it with the sauce and serve on top of noodles.
    Okay. I love meat on the bone. I am Italian and grew up learning to love the beautiful taste of spaghetti sauces, main meals, all made with meat in mind. I created this meal yesterday because when I go to a restaurant and there is a shank recipe I am too intimidated to deal with the bone, because everyone else is so not into it. I made this yesterday. Ooh, la la, best ever. I of course did not read thoroughly the recipe, so I came home with a tube of tomato paste. 4.65 oz. double condensed. I used this, along with having to use a portion of my onion as a shallot. It was so delicious. The sauce of parsley, zest , horseradish, garlic made me feel like I was at one of my favorite french bistro restaurants in Lake Zurich, Illinois. Not a cheap dish, but for someone who like to cook delicioso!
    Was not very pleased with this recipe. I was wary of using that much tomato paste in a recipe, but I followed the recipe as written. As I suspected the sauce came out very acidic and rather than a deep rich flavor I found it a bit harsh. There was no way the veggie flavor could come through with all that paste.The color of the sauce was so unappetizing that I am eternally grateful I didn't serve this to company, just my poor hubby who was up all night with heartburn. I should have followed my instinct and used crushed tomatoes in place of the paste.
    Love it! I have used this for brisket in place of the lamb shanks a few times awesome!
    Rich excellence, next time I would add less tomatoe paste and maybe add whole baby carrots or another starchy veggie in larger chunks. I doubled up on most of the herbs. I cooked it for 2.5 hr plus 25 min w lid off. I also added 1 additional celery and carrot.
    Was hoping to convince my husband to like braised meat, which he does't generally like. The reviews on this were awesome. I don't know if I did something wrong in that I didn't see the episode. I 'm guessing that I really need to trim as much visible fat as possible, but the recipe didn't say that. But following the recipe everything smelled delicious, but my sauce was solid grease. I got rid of all the lamb grease after browning . The braising liquid was solid grease. There was none of the veggie or tomato taste that I could use without getting an oil slick. My husband even remarked that of all my new recipe tries (over about 10 years this was about his least favorite. 
    LOVE this recipe. For those who are mindful of their meat sources, and are looking for ?Clean Protein,? my family gets all of our meat and beef from a 100% grass-fed beef source. The farm also has pastured poultry, lamb, and pastured pork. You can order their pastured meats online at Pasture Prime Family Farm. Keep posting these amazing recipes Food Network!
    I have made this twice now with great success. I did not serve this with the gremalota, but instead took the cooked shanks and pulled all the meat off the bones and shredded it. then I put in back in the sauce with some of Chef Anne's fresh pasta cut wide like tagliatelli. So very yummy!
    This is my go to recipe for Lamb Shanks. I have tried others but I always come back to this one. Thanks Anne. U Rock.
    This is very easy to make and has a wonderful rich flavor. I used a Chianti wine which I think gave it a deep flavor. This is a wonderful cold day dish. I paired it with Risotto which was creamy and wonderful with the lamb.
    I used a Pinot Noir for the wine in this recipe although I doubt using a Cabernet would have caused an off flavor. I always use wine that I would also enjoy drinking. That said, this is my new best friend of a dish. I served it with mashed potatoes, and steamed zucchini and asparagus...and by the way, I didn't puree any of the veggies in the sauce, and liked the way it presented. Thanks Anne!
    I have made this recipe twice. It is absolutely my favorite lamb dish. Talk about comfort food on a cold winter day. I love you Anne!
    I wanted to love this, I really did. Did the recipe exactly as written, and did the cooking times exactly as written, but we didn't adore the sauce. I bought a decent but inexpensive cabernet as the red wine component, and wonder if the wine you use makes the difference in the ratings. I'm wondering if a sweeter wine would make the all the difference - but don't know if I wish to try it again. I must say that the lamb shanks were sooooo tender and flavorful. And for some other posters who don't have a food processor to grind the veggies into a coarse paste, I was thinking maybe a grater would do the job and save time and give almost the same results.
    Do not start with pre-heating the oven. The preparation took me over 1.5 hrs since I did not have a food processor and needed to mince everything myself. I had to brown the veggies for almost 40 minutes because of this. I chickened out and used a whole can of tomato paste and ignored the reviews. Regret! Too much tomato! Next time and believe me, there will be a next time I shall follow the reviewers. I baked at 375 for 3 hrs. I ate one shank & put the rest in the fridge. The next day, it was DELISH! It took me forever to find horseradish but I am so glad it did as it delivers an extra kick. I feel like a gourmet cook. It is simply delicious and my man was super impressed!!!! THANK YOU!!!
    Awesome. Made it almost eaxctly.. (had only a 6 oz can of tomato paste and subbed 1/2+ can of diced tomatoes in their juice. I also unexpectedly had to leave after just an an hour in the oven. I turned it down to 200 and endedup coming back like 5-6 hours later. It was fabulous. Served it with soft polenta.. thank you Anne!!
    Delicious. I made it exactly the way it was written. I would not change anything-that includes the 12 ounces of tomato paste. The red wine and tomato paste give this dish a deep, rich, full flavor. My husband and friends loved the dish.
    Love, love love!! I made this recipe for my first time making lamb shanks and we loved it!! I will agree that you should cut the amount of tomato paste in half. I added some cippolini onions half way through cooking and served over slightly mashed baby red potatoes. My husband was raving about it to his coworkers the next day! Can't wait to make this one again. Thanks Anne!
    Best lamb recipe yet. First time making this recipe and my family thoroughly enjoyed every bite! Thanks Anne, this recipe is a keeper. In fact I probably will make it again in the near future. It was easy to follow and extremely delicious. Only changes I made, I didn't have all the vegetables, but I had a fridge full of awesome veggies, so I substituted - still delicious. I also used just 6 oz of tomato paste.
    this is my second time making this dish last time i used only 6oz. tomato paste as i will again but more garlic love this recipe! i also use a cote du rhone for the wine and will serve with rice pilaf and naan breads cant wait for dinner!
    I have made this 3 times now, and my husband and I LOVE this recipe, but then I love pretty much every recipe of Anne's that I have tried!
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