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.–Renee Schettler Rossi
Braised Lamb Shanks
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- Four (3/- to 1-pound) lamb shanks
- 3 teaspoons kosher salt
- One (28-oz) 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)
- 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.
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.
These braised lamb shanks smelled so wonderful while cooking, we all anticipated a great meal on a recent frigid evening. It delivered. Fragrant with spices, rich with meaty lamb and wine flavor, it was perfect served over soft polenta.
Now, this is what I’m talking about. I love braising. It breaks down the connective tissue of the meat and produces tender, juicy and flavorful lamb. I particularly love the use of fennel and mint in this dish. It’s just the perfect complement to the lamb. All of the ingredients were easy to find, and the method for creating the recipe was simple. You should use a really good wine for this dish; it makes all the difference. The authors are correct in that the lamb tastes even better the next day. I also like this recipe because I can pop it in the oven and do other things for a couple of hours.
Lamb, tomatoes, ginger, AND pinot noir? With those favorite ingredients, along with a lovely pile of others, I couldn’t resist trying this month’s choice. Wasn’t disappointed, either. Flavors blended beautifully—cinnamon and fennel sweetness balanced by the tartness of lemon and ginger, but not overpowering the lamb’s earthiness. This dish is sort of a cross between a Provencal daube and a Moroccan couscous. What a lovely reward for all the chopping and letting the cooking smells take over the house.
Originally published January 11, 2018