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Braised Lamb Shanks

Lamb can be a difficult meat to cook since it has a strong flavour and also can go very dry if overcooked. So the best way to cook it is either very quickly and serve it pink, or over a long time. In terms of the shanks, the long cooking time is the best. Braising lamb shanks involves searing the meat first to seal in the juices, then cooking over a period of 3-4 hours in liquid.

The flavour of the Shanks will depend on what you cook them in so this is the skill to this dish. We cook the shanks in a mixture of sweet fortified wine’s and beef stock to give richness and  sweetness. They do take a lot of time so this is really a weekend dish.

The results however are well worth the wait and the flavour has to be tasted. The lamb should just fall off the shank and one of our favourite parts  is the gravy which you get at the end. No need for gravy granules…this stuff is restaurant quality.

Sweetness is an essential part of this dish. Don’t worry, it wont taste sweet but a little sweetness will take the bitter edge of any tomato and beef stock which may make this too salty.

Braised Lamb Shank Recipe

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  • 2 lamb shanks
  • 50g bacon lardons
  • 1 celery stalk, chopped
  • 1 carrot, chopped
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 2 tsp tomato puree
  • 1 cup Marsala wine
  • 1 cup port
  • 2 cups beef stock
  • 1 tsp whole peppercorns
  • 1 star anise
  • 2 tsp apricot jam
  • 1/2 garlic bulb, chopped down the middle
  • 2 stalks thyme (or rosemary)
  • 2 bay leafs


For best results use a quality casserole dish.

  • Season your lamb shanks with salt and pepper
  • Heat a little oil in your casserole dish or frying pan then sear the lamb shanks on a high heat until browned.
  • Remove from the pan and set aside. Remove the excess fat leaving 1 tbsp.
  • Add the lardons and fry for 2 minutes.
  • Add the carrots, celery and onion and soften with the Lardons for 5 minutes
  • Add the tomato puree and fry for 1 minute
  • Add the Marsala and port, stir everything and allow the alcohol to burn off for 1 minute
  • Add the beef stock, star anise, garlic clove, bay leafs, pepper corns, thyme and apricot jam
  • Add the lamb shanks and make sure the liquid covers half the shanks, if not add some extra water
  • Cover and place in the oven at 180 degrees C
  • Leave for 30 minutes then turn the shanks over
  • Repeat for another 2.5 to 3 hours turning every 30 minutes
  • When the shanks are done remove from the dish, set aside and sieve all the remaining ingredients through a sieve
  • Add the strained gravy back to your dish (or a clean frying pan)
  • Add a few nobs of butter and stir through to get a velvety gravy
  • Add the lamb shanks and stir through for a few minutes to cover with gravy and warm
  • Serve with your choice of mashed or roast potatoes and vegetables

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  1. cook

    Wow! I love your detailed pix and y our method is excellent. I’m going t o try this with 4, just after the holiday. The only serious correction is the comment about searing to “Seal in the juices.” It is an old wifes’ tale, untrue and it does noting toward ‘sealing’ or preserving moisture. It is simply bad information. However, a hefety sear/browning will improve the end product’s flavor and it is easily worth the trouble. I sue a light dusting of flour, both for flavor and as a guide to the borowning process. I keep my braising pan covered in the oven and open it only of some stove-top reduction is necessary. Your major ingredients and seasonings sing to my soul and I can’t wait to try this. Lamb shanks be a darn good thing! Properly flavored and braised, they be a wonderful thing. Thank you.

  2. Mongolian Chef

    You are absolutely right…I guess I’ve never thought about it..just got so used to saying sealing…it is absolutely the browning of the meat which adds flavour more than anything…

  3. Sandra

    Sealring meat does improve flavour, also braising and casserole meats it improves the appearance of the finished product, I have used this recipe to the word, and believe me it was an outstanding delicious meal, I will be cooking the recipe again this evening. SUCCESS,

    • The Mongolian Chef

      Thank you Sandra, this is one of our favourite ways to have lamb

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