Fall-off-the-bone Tender Braised and Roasted Lamb Shanks is a Mediterranean recipe, with herbs and ale, you will save for all your favorite shank cuts of meat.
Having grown up in a Mediterranean influenced home, with a Syrian mom, Lamb was the primary meat in our home, and boy am I glad it was!
As an adult, I will admit I often go for the Lamb Chops since they are fast and reliable.
You might recall I made gorgeous lamb chops on The Great American Recipe cooking show with PBS, in under 60-minutes!
However, at home, the lamb shank is often the cut I will cook for the family.
The art of cooking lamb shanks took me a little time, in my adult life, to find a cooking method that I could rely on every time.
Not knowing much about the cuts of lamb, I took the time to learn, and in learning I found out why lamb shank is often one of the tough cuts of the lamb.
Basically, the shank is from the shin of the lamb, unlike the leg of the lamb which has various portions, the shank has more muscle and can be packed with a lot of connective tissue.
Knowing that both the foreshank and hind-shank, from the lower portion of the leg, can have similar characteristics, a great recipe with good results, is what I set out to create.
Old-School Slow Cooking Method
Primarily, because I was going to be cooking several shanks, and so a large Dutch oven (or large pot with a lid), is what I chose to use, on top the stove.
The best way to cook a tough cut of meat, is to slow braise it, immersed in cooking liquids for a long period of time.
Braised And Roasted Lamb Shank Recipe
Oh sure, I could have simply braised these gorgeous lamb shanks over medium heat for a long and leisurely cooking time the way you might a slow cooked stew recipe.
However, since my professional chef son ordered good quality, oversized lamb shanks for our family gathering, I wanted them to have a tender texture but still look special.
For this reason, the final step I chose, was to finish off the braised, fall-off-the-bone shanks, in the oven and roast for just 15-20 minutes.
Cooking on low heat, just enough to crisp the outer part of the lamb, while keeping the inside tender, assuring me the meat would be served hot, yet look elegant.
Step-By-Step Instructions How This Tender Lamb Shank Is Braised And Roasted
No need to worry about using a beef broth, beef stock, chicken stock or any other pre-packaged broth.
We are going to build the best braising liquid from the flavors of the bone lamb shanks.
- The first step is to impart flavor into the meat and we will do that by allowing the lamb to marinate overnight in the fridge.
- The marinade is simply lots of garlic slivers, poked into crevices all over the meat, extra virgin olive oil, kosher salt and fresh herbs.
- For the second step, the braising step, a hot sear is made on all the sides of the lamb shanks, in a large Dutch oven or large pot with a lid, followed by all ingredients added to the pot.
- Cover the meat with the liquids, put a lid on, lower to a simmer and cook in this way for about 2-hours.
- This step can be done the day of, or day before you plan to serve, allowing extra time for the meat to soak in all the flavors and become beautifully tender.
- The final step is to roast the meat in a low-heat oven, for under 30-minutes just before serving, to add a crisp to the outside of the meat, while keeping the inside tender and moist.
Why Use Pale Ale Instead Of Red Wine?
You’ve probably seen most braised meat recipes cooked with red wine.
And while there’s nothing wrong with this, I have found that by using a golden pale ale, ie ‘beer’, the saltiness of an ale compliments the lamb far more than the fruitiness of wine.
What To Serve With Lamb Shanks?
Being of a Mediterranean heritage, the possibilities to serve with lamb shanks for me, would still be Mediterranean.
- Spanakopita – a spinach, egg and feta mixture, wrapped in phyllo dough bundles, or a large pie, and served as a side dish
- Dauphinoise potatoes – a French potato dish with layers of thin potato slices, cream and cheeses and baked to golden perfection
- Mediterranean Orzo Black Olive Salad – a salad with the delicate, rice shaped orzo pasta with black olives, sun-dried tomatoes, feta and fresh herbs
- Mediterranean Tabbouleh with Millet – a lovely gluten-free salad using the delicate flavor of millet, with lots of fresh herbs, tomatoes, lemon and garlic
- Homemade Pita Bread – of course
Special Occasion Lamb Shank Meal
However, on the day I prepared this recipe, it was Easter and I was having a large gathering of family.
I wanted dishes I could prep in advance, be able to enjoy the time with family, so I wasn’t cooking right up to the time of serving,
For this I prepared Carrot Risotto, shaped in advance to look like a carrot, and quick last minute heap of asparagus in lemon and olive oil.
I was able to prep the asparagus in advance, putting the herbs, lemon, olive oil and asparagus into the pan, cover and leave out overnight.
By the way, do NOT throw out the bottoms of the asparagus, should you serve them.
Make them into a fabulous Asparagus Ends Soup a few days later!
What To Do With Leftover Lamb Shanks
Well, I doubt you will have much in the way of leftover shanks, but if you do, pull the meat off the bone and set aside.
Remember all those luscious flavors that went into the braising liquid?
Cooking, for me, is always easier when I know and have the right equipment at hand.
These are the items I will be using for this recipe.
- Large Dutch oven or large pot with a lid
- Roasting pan
- Large airtight container
- Cutting board
- Chopping knife
- Measuring cup and spoons
- Lamb shanks
- Extra virgin olive oil
- Fresh herbs – I chose fresh marjoram but fresh rosemary or fresh thyme are both delitious
- Red onions
- Chili peppers
- Black Cumin – also known as nigella seeds, crushed
- Coarse kosher salt
- Dried fruit – cranberry, cherry or dates
- Golden Ale – golden beer, not a stout
- Boiling water
Tender Braised and Roasted Lamb Shanks
- Large Dutch Oven
- Roasting Pan
- 6 Lamb shanks
- 6 Garlic cloves slivered
- 1/4 cup Extra virgin olive oil
- 1 bundle Fresh herbs Marjoram, fresh rosemary or fresh thyme
- 3 tbsp Butter
- 2 Red onions rough chopped
- 2 Chili peppers
- 2 tbsp Black cumin powder
- 2 tbsp Coarse kosher salt
- 1/4 cup Molasses
- 1 cuo Dried fruit cranberry, cherry or dates
- 3 cups Pale Ale golden beer
- 4 cups Boiling water
- In a very large airtight container, place the lamb shanks. Drizzle a little of the extra virgin olive oil (saving some for cooking), over the shanks, along with kosher salt and fresh herbs. With the slivered pieces of garlic, slide them into all the crevices of the meat so the garlic cooks inside of the meat. Place in the fridge overnight, allowing to sit room temperature the next day before cooking.
- In a large Dutch oven, or very large pot with a lid, get the pot hot on top of the stove over medium-high heat. Drizzle the remaining olive oil, and butter into the pot, placing each lamb shank quickly into the pot, along with everything in the marinating container, to get a quick sear, turning the seared lamb shanks on all sides. Add the onions, chili pepper, black cumin and toss the meat around to coat with these ingredients. Add the remaining ingredients, put a lid on and lower the heat as low as you can and still see a slow simmer inside of the pot. Leave to braise for 2-hours.
- Gently remove the shanks and transfer into a roasting pan. In a low temperature oven of about 275-300 degrees, place the roasting pan in for 15-20 minutes. The perfectly cooked lamb shanks are ready to serve.