Time to talk lamb shanks? Why, yes. Yes it is.
- 2 1.5lb lamb shanks
- 1 tbsp vegetable oil
- 3 carrots, finely chopped
- 3 celery stalks, finely chopped
- 1 medium onion, finely chopped
- 4 garlic cloves, minced
- 6oz can tomato paste
- 1 cup dry red wine
- 14.5oz can chopped tomatoes in juice, I prefer low sodium
- 2 cups low sodium beef stock
- 1 cup water (or more if needed)
- 15-20 sprigs fresh thyme, bundled together with butchers twine
- 1 tbsp fresh rosemary, finely chopped
- 2 bay leaves
- Salt and freshly cracked black pepper
- 1/4 cup fresh parsley, chopped
- Parmesan cheese, freshly grated
- Allow lamb shanks to come to room temperature for 30 minutes. Trim off any excess fat, cut an inch off the end to expose the bone marrow, and season liberally with salt and pepper.
- Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.
- Heat large dutch oven over medium-high heat. Add vegetable oil and sear lamb shanks on all sides until nicely browned. Remove lamb shanks and set aside.
- Drain excess fat from the dutch oven, leaving about 1/2 tbsp. Drop heat to medium and add carrot, celery, and onion. Cook for 15 minutes until vegetables are nicely caramelized. Add a pinch of salt and freshly cracked black pepper to season. Add garlic and cook for 2 additional minutes.
- Add tomato paste and stir into vegetables to coat. Cook, stirring often, for 8-10 minutes to caramelize and develop the tomato flavor. This is an important step. Don’t skimp on caramelizing the tomato paste as it adds a lovely depth of flavor to the dish.
- Add red wine and scrape down any brown bits that have developed on the bottom and sides of the pot. Add chopped tomatoes, beef stock, and water. Stir well and increase heat to medium-high to bring to a low boil. Add thyme, rosemary, and bay leaves. Stir well. Return lamb shanks to the pot. If the liquid level does not come to the top of the lamb shanks, add additional water. Season with a pinch of salt and freshly cracked black pepper. (Note, if you did not use low sodium stock no need to season with salt, the stock will contain enough salt to season the dish.)
- Place lid on dutch oven and put in the preheated oven and cook for 2 1/2 hours, basting and rotating lamb shanks 2-3 times throughout the cooking process. Remove lid and cook an additional 30 minutes to concentrate the cooking liquid.
- At this point, start your parmesan polenta and mushrooms.
- Remove lamb shanks to a serving platter and tent with foil to keep warm. Place the dutch oven on the stove-top over low heat. Remove thyme bundle and bay leaves, and skim off any grease that has gathered on the surface (I removed about 3 tbsp).
- Taste sauce and season with salt and pepper if necessary. Add 1/4 cup fresh parsley.
- Spoon about 2 cups of sauce over lamb shanks and serve with parmesan polenta and mushrooms.
- You can serve the lamb shanks 2 ways – remove excess fat from the shanks, discard, and serve chunks of lamb mixed with the sauce (like a ragu). OR -serve each person an entire lamb shank to pick at themselves. Both ways are equally as good 🙂 ALWAYS serve with parmesan polenta and mushrooms.
- Top plated dish with freshly grated Parmesan cheese and fresh parsley.
Note: If you are serving a crowd, there will be enough sauce for 4-6 lamb shanks – no need to double the sauce if you cook additional lamb shanks. Just make sure your dutch oven is large enough, or cook in 2 pots.
Leftovers: Shred left over lamb shanks, combine with leftover sauce, and serve over pappradelle noodles with fresh basil and Parmesan cheese.