The Butcher and the Chef 1

From the Chef’s Kitchen

Braised Lamb Shanks are one of my favorite dishes to serve in the middle of a cold winter. They are comforting, filling, warm, and depending on how you serve them, they are relatively healthy. Colorado Lamb is considered the best lamb in the world. In that vein, we suggest serving this delicious entree when the nights are long, and the temperature is low.

Below is my recipe for braised lamb shank. It can be served many ways, with a vast array of side dishes, or just on its own with some nice crusty bread. I often serve with white beans, fennel, and tomato or over a roasted vegetable risotto. Other popular accompaniments include soft polenta, mashed potatoes, or rice. They all taste great!


(serves 4)

  • 4 fresh lamb shanks (1 – 1.5 lb each)
  • kosher salt and fresh cracked black pepper
  • 1/2 Cup canola oil
  • 4 large carrots, peeled and chopped
  • 1 large yellow onion, peeled and chopped
  • 4 stalks celery, chopped
  • 1 head garlic, cloves peeled
  • 1 Tbsp whole black peppercorns
  • 2 Tbsp tomato paste
  • 2 Qts red wine
  • 4 Qts meat stock (lamb is ideal, but chicken or beef works fine)
  • 2oz Fresh Thyme
  • 2oz Fresh Rosemary
  • 4 bay leaves
  1. Pat dry lamb shanks and season all sides very liberally with salt and pepper.
  2. In wide bottomed pot, heat canola oil over high heat.  Place shanks in the pot and sear each side until browned – about 2 minutes per side. Remove from pan and set on resting plate.
  3. Add carrots, onion, and celery to pan and continue to cook on high heat.  Stir every few minutes to ensure even browning of vegetables. This takes about 10 minutes.
  4. Add garlic, peppercorns, and tomato paste and cook on high heat for one minute, stirring constantly.
  5. Add 1 cup red wine and stir.  Allow red wine to reduce until almost dry.  Repeat with 1 cup of wine at a time, allowing the liquid to reduce to a thick paste before adding more until all red wine has been used up.  Using a whisk, stir often to remove any dark, stuck bits from the bottom of the pot. This step develops the deep flavor of the sauce.
  6. Once all the red wine has been incorporated, add the stock and bring to a boil.  Place the shanks back in the pot and turn down to a simmer.  The liquid should just cover the meat.  If the pot is too big or small to cover the lamb, transfer all ingredients to a baking pan or casserole dish, so it fits perfectly.
  7. Add the thyme, rosemary, bay leaves, and a generous sprinkle of salt.
  8. Cover with foil and place into a 300-degree oven and bake for 4-5 hours, or until the meat is extremely tender and will tear with a fork.
  9. Remove from oven and allow to cool to room temperature (if you have extra time, allow to cool overnight in fridge and then take out and slightly warm up so you can move the shanks).  Skim off any fat that has risen to top of liquid.
  10. Carefully remove shanks from liquid and set aside.  Strain all liquid through mesh strainer into a pot and bring to boil.  Skim off excess fat from top of liquid.  Taste the sauce.  If it seems “thin”, reduce over high heat until it becomes sauce-like (thin but with enough body to coat a spoon).  Now adjust the salt and pepper levels (don’t do it before reducing or it may come out salty).
  11. Place shanks back in finished sauce and gently warm up together.
  12. Shanks are now ready to serve!!!!