Without requiring intense culinary skill, lamb shanks can be beautifully prepared and served for an elegant meal.
By Dawn Myers
At some point during the 1990s, lamb shanks were “it”. A long simmer with a dark, rich sauce and usually served with white beans. The dish was everywhere. Until it wasn’t. Going through lots of cookbooks from the 1800s and 1900s, I don’t really find this dish until around the 1990s. Not that it couldn’t have existed, but it wasn’t really wide spread.
The shank is part of the animal’s lower leg. As a result, it does a lot of work making the meat very, very tough. There are a variety of ways to tackle toughness. Long, low braising and pressure cooking. This recipe is adaptable to both. What I love about this recipe is that there is very little active time. Most of the time you are hanging out waiting for either heat or pressure to do its thing. Lamb shanks can be on the table in less than an hour with the pressure cooker, or if I get home early, I can start dinner then set about doing my other duties.
As a bonus, lamb shanks also give the impression that someone with extreme culinary skills made the dish, when truly, they are not required. You can’t really overcook this meat and it’s a very low maintenance recipe.
- ¼ cup lard, duck fat or bacon drippings (vegetable oil would be fine too)
- 4 lamb shanks
- Salt and Pepper
- 1 onion, medium dice
- 3 stalks of celery, medium dice
- 1 teaspoon salt
- ¼ teaspoon ground black pepper
- 4 ounces of mushrooms, sliced
- 1 teaspoon thyme
- 2 teaspoons rosemary
- 4- 5 medium carrots, peeled, large dice.
- 2 cups chicken broth (brown is preferred)
- 1 cup red wine (Cabernet -like)
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.
- In a dutch oven, heat oil over medium high heat. Sprinkle the lamb shanks liberally with salt and pepper. Place heated oil and brown, about 2 minutes a side. Remove to a plate and set aside.
- Add onions and celery to the dutch oven. Cook until onions are translucent and celery is soft. Scrape up any brown bits left over from the meat browning when the onions start to let off some liquid.
- Add mushrooms, thyme, rosemary and carrots. Cook until the mushrooms have given up some of their liquid.
- Add the chicken broth and wine and simmer until the alcohol is cooked out. Return the lamb shanks to the pot. Cover the pot and place in the oven to cook for 90-120 minutes, until tender.
- Please follow your pressure cooker instructions for using your pressure cooker.
- As above, heat the cooking fat in the pressure cooker, salt and pepper the shanks and brown them for about 2 minutes on each side. Add onions and celery to the dutch oven. Cook until onions are translucent and celery is soft.
- Add mushrooms, thyme and rosemary. Cook until the mushrooms have given up some of their liquid.
- Add the chicken broth and wine and simmer until the alcohol is cooked out.
- Return the lamb shanks to the pot. Make sure the shanks are at the appropriate height level for your pressure cooker.
- Add the lid to your pressure cooker and cook the shanks on high pressure for 25 minutes. Remove the pressure cooker from the heat and allow to cool down.
- When safe, remove the lid, add the carrots and return to the heat for another 10 minutes.
- Remove from heat and allow the pressure to cool down again. When safe, remove the lid and serve.
Wife, mother of 2 lovely children, MBA, lawyer, bureaucrat. I adore reading old cookbooks and am endlessly inspired by their simplicity, economy, and true connection with the food being prepared. My blog explores "historic" recipes and more modern recipes that embody the same ideals.