Braised lamb shanks are left to slowly burble in a lovely Pinot Noir with fennel, ginger, cinnamon, coriander, and more until the meat is literally falling-off-the-bone tender. One of our favorite winter pastimes is making this.
Braised lamb shanks is the sort of food that tastes even better the day after it’s made. That’s not to say braised lamb shanks in pinot noir aren’t irresistible the moment they’re coaxed to tenderness. But we’re not going to argue about making this recipe a day or two ahead of time since it’s such a boon to be able to do the heavy lifting for entertaining in advance. If you can manage to stash the shanks in the back of the fridge and resist indulging in them for 48 hours, you’ll be rewarded with richly nuanced layers of flavors the likes of which you’ve never experienced. No lie. Originally published January 2, 2010.–Renee Schettler Rossi
Braised Lamb Shanks
- Quick Glance
- 40 M
- 3 H, 40 M
- Serves 4 to 6
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- Four 3/4 to 1 pound each lamb shanks
- 3 teaspoons kosher salt
- One 28-ounce can whole tomatoes with liquid
- 1 yellow onion, finely chopped
- 1 fennel bulb, fronds and stalks removed, halved, cored, and thinly sliced
- 2 carrots, peeled and chopped into 1 1/2-inch lengths (optional)
- 4 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
- 1 lemon, halved
- 1 1/2 cups pinot noir
- 1 1/2 teaspoons finely grated peeled ginger
- 2 whole cinnamon sticks
- 1 teaspoon whole coriander seeds
- 1 teaspoon fennel seeds
- 3 tablespoons unsalted butter
- 12 mint leaves
- Parsley, for garnish (optional)
- Mashed potatoes, for serving (optional)
- 1. Preheat the oven to 300°F (150°C).
- 2. Heat the olive oil in a Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Sprinkle the lamb shanks with 2 teaspoons salt and sear them in the pot, turning to brown them on all sides. Remove the shanks to a plate and pour off any excess fat from the pan.
- 3. Pour the tomatoes into a large bowl and, using your hands, shred them into small pieces. Set aside.
- 4. Add the onions, fennel, carrots (if using), garlic, and the remaining 1 teaspoon salt to the pot. Cook, stirring and scraping any browned bits off the bottom of the pot, until the garlic is lightly toasted, 3 to 4 minutes. Squeeze in the lemon juice from each half and toss the lemon rinds into the pot. Stir in the wine, tomatoes, and ginger, scraping any browned bits up from the bottom of the pot, and bring to a simmer. Cook for about 3 minutes.
- 5. Stir in the cinnamon, coriander, fennel seeds, and 3/4 cup water, then add the lamb to the pot. Cover and braise in the oven until the lamb shanks are fork-tender and falls easily off the bone, about 3 hours.
- 6. Arrange the braised lamb shanks on a platter. Stir the butter into the pan juices and, once melted, add the mint. Pour the sauce over the lamb, discarding the cinnamon sticks. Sprinkle with parsley, if desired, and serve with mashed potatoes.