Braised Lamb Shanks in Pinot Noir

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.

A braised lamb shank in pinot noir, and exposed bone, on mash potatoes, all on a white plate sitting on planks of wood

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
  • (6)
  • 40 M
  • 3 H, 40 M
  • Serves 4 to 6
4.2/5 - 6 reviews
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Ingredients


Directions

Preheat the oven to 300°F (150°C).

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.

Pour the tomatoes into a large bowl and, using your hands, shred them into small pieces. Set aside.

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.

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.

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.

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Recipe Testers' Reviews

These were the best braised lamb shanks I’ve ever made. This is now my go-to lamb shank recipe. The aroma while cooking and the flavor of the finished dish were delectable. The meat was falling off the bone by the end of the cooking time and was wonderfully moist and tender. The braising liquid was, in itself, a great dish. I served some of the left over liquid over rice a few days later.

Lamb shanks are one of my very favourite things, so when I saw the title of the recipe and the list of ingredients I fell in love! I’m always on the lookout for different ways to use lamb shanks. This is a lovely dish that I will continue to make often. Personally, I’d use less fennel seeds and coriander seeds, but, otherwise, loved it. This dish is packed with flavour, and it’s very true that it’s even better the next day. The house was filled with wonderfully warm and luscious aromas—wish I could package the scent! The meat is so tender you could eat it with a spoon. Very impressive looking, yet so simple to make. It would be a superb company dish.

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Comments

  1. What is best way to serve the sauce, is it strained or should all the spices and veggies be served on the side? The picture appears like just a smooth sauce is used.

    1. Denise, you can serve it however you choose. Based on the recipe, I would keep the vegetables in it, but if you’d like to have a smoother sauce, you can go ahead and strain it. The image does look like the sauce is fairly smooth, but it would be just as lovely with those tender vegetables in there.

  2. Perfect for a cold January night. I was lazy and chose to use a bottle of red already in the house (Zinfandel). I was afraid it might be too “fruit forward,” but the dish tasted great! All the compliments above hold true: regarding being tender, moist, flavorful, etc. Will definitely make again.

  3. I´d like to make an special Mother´s Day lunch this coming Sunday, and this recipe really caught my attention! As I don´t have a Dutch oven, I´d like to know if you think it would work in a slow cooker (from step 5 on, of course!).

    1. Hi Suzana, I think this would be well suited for a slow cooker. As you tend to end up with a lot of liquid during the process, I might be inclined to reduce the juices in a pan over a stove top before whisking in the butter and mint.

  4. I’ve been “eyeing” this recipe and can’t wait to make it! A couple of questions – I will be making it for 8 people. Do I double up the recipe exactly or go lighter on the spices, do I use the same amount of liquid or less?

    1. Hi Sharon, I think a lot depends on the size of the pan that you use for 8 shanks. I find that 4 shanks fit perfectly in my dutch oven all nestled down in the braising liquid. If you needed to increase the amount of liquid, then I would increase the spices proportionately.

  5. Yvonne, you certainly know your Middle Eastern food and ingredients and you have definitely had the best in Morocco. I confess I am stumped with this. When I made this recipe it was fragrant and tasty with warm flavours. It did not announce itself with a punch but it definitely was flavourful. You have piqued my interest in this recipe. As I have preserved lemon in the fridge I think I will use that.

    The only other thing I can think of is the use of a good wine – I used better than usual for cooking. Aside from that I am perplexed. Would you please let us know how your next round goes? Hopefully you will be able to enjoy the wondrous aromas in your kitchen – and a great-tasting dish. All the best of luck with this!

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