Braised Lamb Shanks

Author: Marthinus Strydom
Category: Lamb
Serves/Qty: 4
Marthinus Strydom

Tender and tasty, these lamb shanks are the perfect weekend meal. The Gremolata provides just the perfect amount of sourness for the sweet beans and savory lamb.

The Story

Most shank recipes are tied to very specific regions and cultures. Veal shank recipes are most common to Italy, Germany and France. Lamb shank recipes most often come from people who raise sheep for wool. The British and Commonwealth countries eat both mutton and lamb and the shanks are called "trotters." This recipe is a traditional Italian dish served with beans and gremolata.

More about Italy

Italy is one of those countries about which you probably have quite a number of preconceptions before you have put one foot into the country. A country of olive oil and mafia, pasta, wine and sunshine, roman ruins and renaissance palaces, Italy has a lot to offer its visitors. Although some of these images are appealing, it would be a shame if that was the only thing you come away with. Italy is certainly much more complex and interesting than that.

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Adjust Quanities

For beans
2 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
2 small onions, chopped fine
2 small carrots, chopped fine
2 celery ribs, chopped fine
3 garlic cloves, minced
2 cup cooked white beans (preferably great northern or navy)
2 cup chicken broth
2 tbsp unsalted butter
1 bay leaf
1 tbsp unsalted butter
3 fresh tarragon sprigs
For gremolata
3 tbsp chopped fresh parsley leaves (preferably flat-leafed)
1 tsp freshly grated lemon zest (about lemon)
3 garlic cloves, minced
For lamb shanks
4 lamb shanks
2 tbsp olive oil
1 medium onion, chopped coarse
1 medium carrot, chopped coarse
1 celery rib, chopped coarse
8 garlic cloves, chopped coarse
3½ cup bordeaux or other full-bodied red wine
4 cup chicken broth
1 tbsp tomato paste
2 fresh thyme sprigs


Make lamb shanks:

  • Pat lamb shanks dry and season with salt and pepper.
  • In an 8-quart heavy flameproof casserole heat oil over moderately high heat until hot but not smoking and brown lamb shanks well in batches, transferring to a plate as browned.
  • To casserole add onion, carrot, celery, and garlic and sauté until onion is softened.
  • Add wine and simmer mixture, stirring occasionally, until liquid is reduced to about 3 cups.
  • Return lamb shanks to casserole and stir in broth, tomato paste, and thyme.
  • Bring liquid to a boil and simmer, covered, stirring and turning lamb shanks occasionally, 1 1/2 hours.
  • Simmer mixture, uncovered, stirring occasionally, 1 hour more, or until lamb shanks are tender.

Make the gremolata while lamb is cooking:

  • In a small bowl stir together gremolata ingredients.

Make beans while lamb is cooking:

  • In a saucepan heat oil over moderately high heat until hot but not smoking and cook onions, carrots, celery, and garlic, stirring, 2 or 3 minutes, or until softened.
  • Add beans, 2 cups broth, butter, and bay leaf and cook over moderate heat, stirring occasionally and adding enough remaining broth to keep beans moist and to reach a creamy consistency, about 30 minutes.
  • Discard bay leaf and add half of gremolata and salt and pepper to taste.

Putting it together:

  • Transfer lamb shanks to a plate and keep warm, covered with foil.
  • Strain braising liquid through a sieve into a saucepan, discarding solids, and stir in butter and tarragon.
  • Boil sauce, stirring occasionally, until thickened slightly.
  • Strain sauce through sieve into a bowl and season with salt and freshly ground black pepper.
  • Sprinkle lamb shanks with remaining gremolata and serve with beans and sauce.

lamb shanks lamb italy beans gremolata