Friday, February 6, 2009

Lamb Shanks in Tomato Sauce

A wonderful lamb shank recipe that I highly recommend!
by Charlie Leck

I don't believe I've ever given you a recipe before. I know I've written a lot about lamb dishes, but I've never given you a blow by blow account about fixing one of them. Well, two nights ago we dined on lamb shanks and they were so superb that I thought I just had to share the recipe with you. The photograph (above) was taken right at the dining room table as I presented the dish.

So, here's how I fix themed -- top to bottom. The recipe is for 6 shanks for 5 or 6 people.

Here's the ingredients you'll need.

Lamb Shanks - 6 high quality lamb shanks
(preferably from Sheep Hollow) of about 1 lb each

Olive oil -- 4 or 5 Tablespoons
Garlic -- 4 cloves minced
Onions -- 3 to 4 cups chopped
Tomatoes -- 6 cups chopped (if canned, drain)
White Wine -- 1 cup dry white wine Marsala Wine -- half cup of dry Marsala

Broth -- 1 and a half cup of vegetable broth (I like the 'Better than Broth' series)

Dried All-Spice -- half teaspoon
Dried Rosemary -- 1 teaspoon
Parsley -- 1 Tablespoon of fresh leaves
Rosemary -- 1 Tablespoon of fresh leaves
Salt (Kosher)

Now, with those ingredients at hand and prepared, here's what you do!

  • Pat the lamb shanks dry and season with pepper and salt

  • Brown them (probably 2 or 3 at a time in a heavy kettle (Browning is crucial and do not hurry your browning. Turn so every side gets thoroughly browned.)

  • As shanks are browned, move them into a roasting pan large enough to accept them in a single layer.

  • When the shanks are all in the roasting pan, add all the chopped onions and cook until soft (about 3 minutes).

  • Add minced garlic (cook for about 4 minutes)

  • Stir in tomatoes, dried spices, broth, wines, and add some salt and pepper to taste.

  • Keep stirring as sauces comes to a boil.

  • Spread the sauce over the shanks in the roasting pan.

  • Cover roasting pan tightly with lid or foil.

  • Cook in 350 degree oven for 90 minutes (or a bit more if shanks were very large).

  • Move the shanks to a serving platter.

  • Return sauce to a clean kettle and bring to a boil -- stir 2 tablespoon of fresh parsley leaves and fresh rosemary leaves into the sauce. Continue to stir, reducing sauce to 4 or 5 cups.

  • Pour sauce over the shanks.

  • Sprinkle fresh, chopped parsley leaves decoratively over the shanks and sauce.
Here's a trick that I have found to "never fail." Don't serve on the day of preparation. Instead of putting the shanks and sauce on a serving platter, put the meal in a dish that will fit into the refrigerator. Cover tightly! Refrigerate for 1 or 2 days. Then, just before dinner, put in the oven in a roasting pan until thoroughly heated. The shanks will be incredibly more tender and moister than if immediately served.

I served the shanks with a huge Idaho russet baked potato that was enough for 3 people, creamed cucumbers and a nice, crusty french bread. We sipped on a very good, dry, red wine from Australia.

I don't want to pretend for a second that this is an original recipe. I found it somewhere quite a few years ago and failed to note from where it came. I've added my own wrinkles to it, however.
More lamb recipes, both our own and links to many other good sources, can be found on the web site of our farm.


  1. Charles this is a great recipe.
    I absolutely love your raison d'etre for the blog.
    Your grandchildren are indeed fortunate.

  2. I looked at your site becasue of your handle - ad Astra.
    I'm sure you'll know that the motto of The Australian Air Force is Per Ardua ad Astra!
    Is there anyone else out there who appreciates a little Latin - we are sadly reducing in numbers rapidly.