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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4.6 114
OUTSTANDING LAMB SHANKS! Reading through the other reviews, I completely disagree that there is too much tomato paste. It is very important to take the time to brown the vegetable puree and then after adding the tomato paste take the time to brown it again. The sauce once the lamb shanks have cooked in the oven is so luscious and rich. I served the lamb and sauce over mashed potatoes with the bright gremolata on top. SO DELICIOUS!!!! item not reviewed by moderator and published
This is just a really good recipe for lamb shanks. Have cooked it before and will cook it again. item not reviewed by moderator and published
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. item not reviewed by moderator and published
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. item not reviewed by moderator and published
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? item not reviewed by moderator and published
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 :-) item not reviewed by moderator and published
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. item not reviewed by moderator and published
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. item not reviewed by moderator and published
One of our absolute favorites! I make this about 4 times a year and never had any desire to change anything. Bravo Chef Burrell item not reviewed by moderator and published
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! item not reviewed by moderator and published
Dutch Oven is a cooking vessel--a large pot. item not reviewed by moderator and published

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