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Amtrak's Lamb Shanks (Seriously) and More Recipes

Amtrak's Lamb Shanks (Seriously) and More Recipes

Check out our editors' picks for the best recipes from food sections around the country.

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More apple recipes. One for every day, in fact. As the adage goes...

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Lamb shank recipes

Discover our collection of succulent slow-cooked lamb shank recipes. This tender meat is delicious when braised and served in curries, stews, roasts and pies.

Braised lamb shanks

Lamb shanks are good value, and as each one is a portion, serving is a cinch. You can braise the shanks up to two days ahead

Vietnamese lamb shanks with sweet potatoes

Meltingly tender and full of classic Asian flavours, these lamb shanks are perfect for freezing

Lamb shanks with chickpeas & Moroccan spices

Couscous goes well with the North African flavours of this dish

Slow-cooker lamb shanks

Make this slow-cooker lamb shank recipe for chilly evenings when you need something simple and hearty. Serve with mash, fettuccine or a crispy baked potato


Gallery

  • 4 lamb foreshanks (about 5 pounds)
  • 1 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt, divided
  • 1 teaspoon black pepper, divided
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter, divided
  • 12 unpeeled garlic cloves plus 24 peeled garlic cloves (from 4 heads), divided
  • 6 fresh bay leaves
  • 6 thyme sprigs
  • 3 1/2 cups low-sodium chicken stock
  • 1 large red bell pepper, cut into 1/4-inch strips
  • 1 medium-size yellow bell pepper, cut into 1/4-inch strips
  • 1 tablespoon fresh thyme leaves

Preheat oven to 300°F. Sprinkle lamb with 1 teaspoon salt and 1/2 teaspoon black pepper.

Heat 1 tablespoon butter in a large ovenproof Dutch oven over medium until foamy. Add 2 foreshanks, all of the unpeeled garlic cloves, bay leaves, and thyme sprigs, and cook, turning occasionally, until browned all over, about 15 minutes. Transfer browned foreshanks, unpeeled garlic, bay leaves, and thyme sprigs to a platter, and set aside. Add remaining 2 foreshanks to Dutch oven, and cook, turning occasionally, until browned all over, about 15 minutes. Return browned foreshanks, unpeeled garlic, bay leaves, and thyme sprigs to Dutch oven. Cover and transfer to preheated oven. Cook, flipping shanks every 20 minutes, until very tender, about 2 hours.

Remove lamb shanks, and set aside. Pour chicken stock into Dutch oven, and bring to a boil over high, scraping up any browned bits from bottom of Dutch oven. Remove from heat use a ladle to skim off fat from surface, and discard. Return stock to a boil over high, skimming surface often and discarding fat, until reduced to 2 cups, about 10 minutes. Pour stock mixture through a fine wire-mesh strainer into a large measuring cup discard solids. Skim remaining fat from surface, and discard. Wipe Dutch oven clean pour strained stock into Dutch oven.

Add peeled garlic cloves to strained stock, and simmer over medium-low until garlic is slightly tender, about 20 minutes, flipping garlic cloves after 10 minutes. Return lamb to Dutch oven. (The lamb can be cooked up to a day ahead. Refrigerate, covered reheat before proceeding.)

Scatter bell peppers and thyme leaves around lamb, and cook over medium-low, moving peppers around lamb occasionally, until peppers and garlic are tender, about 10 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, transfer lamb shanks to warm serving plates. Add remaining 1 tablespoon butter, remaining 1/4 teaspoon salt, and remaining 1/2 teaspoon black pepper to sauce, and stir until creamy. Remove from heat. Spoon sauce with bell peppers and garlic cloves around lamb shanks.


How to Cook Lamb Shank

Due to its toughness and low fat content, braising lamb shank is the ideal way to enjoy it. The braising liquid keeps the meat from drying out and the hours-long cooking over low heat gives the tough meat a chance to become tender and succulent. Lamb shank typically comes bone-in, and braising gives the bone marrow a chance to melt into the braising liquid, transforming it into a rich and full-bodied sauce.

If you don’t want to braise, you can cook it for hours on low heat in the slow cooker to stew the meat. Be sure to keep the lid on to retain moisture. Similarly, it can be pressure-cooked with liquid. Lamb shank shouldn’t be pan-fried or sautéed or else it will be too tough to chew.

Lamb shank often comes with a thin white membrane that can be trimmed away or left on to melt away during cooking. Most importantly, brown the meat before slow cooking or braising to add a deeper flavor. You can achieve this by searing the meat in the same pot that you are using for slow-cooking or braising.


Slow-Roasted Rosemary Garlic Lamb Shanks

Although not the most popular of meats in American cuisine, lamb has long been a favorite in dishes around the world, especially in Mediterranean cuisine. Easy to prepare and flavorful, lamb gives a sweeter, earthier taste to recipes that call for beef. Lamb shanks are cut from the leg of the animal, containing a central bone surrounded by hearty meat. They are more inexpensive than other cuts of lamb.

While some cuts of lamb are delicious cooked briefly at high heat (like grilling), lamb shanks are a different matter. Braising is a better option since the meat tends to be a little tougher, and low and slow cooking renders it fork-tender. This slow-roasted lamb shank recipe is such a great and easy way to enjoy lamb. It only requires a few ingredients, and even though it takes some time, it's almost all hands-off.

You'll need to plan a few hours to prepare ahead for this recipe to allow the lamb to slow-roast, but it will be time well-spent. Serve with mashed potatoes or grain to soak up the juices.


  • 4 lamb shanks
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 50g/2oz butter
  • 2 large onions peeled and sliced
  • 1 tbsp dark brown sugar
  • 2 tbsp sherry vinegar
  • 1 tsp ground ginger
  • 5 cloves
  • ½ tsp each ground turmeric, nutmeg, cumin and coriander
  • 750ml/11/4 pints lamb or chicken stock
  • 1 handful each dried apricots, prunes, jumbo sultanas and pine nuts
  • Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

Preheat the oven to 150ºC/300ºF/Gas Mark 2.

Season the lamb shanks with salt and pepper. Heat the oil in a large pot with a lid, over a high heat. Brown the shanks on all sides, then put aside on a plate.

Reduce the heat and melt the butter in the pan. Gently fry the onions for about 20 minutes until soft and translucent. Stir in the sugar, vinegar and spices and continue frying for 5-10 minutes, until nicely caramelised.

Stir in the stock, dried fruit and pine nuts. Nestle the shanks into the mixture on their sides and pop into the oven for 2½ hours, turning the shanks halfway through the cooking. Serve with plain basmati rice tossed with plenty of chopped dill, and a crunchy salad.


Utterly glorious lamb shanks

This lamb shanks recipe is from my first cookbook, At My Table – I chose to share with everyone, because so many people say it’s the best lamb shanks recipe they have tried! Tender lamb lying provocatively on a bed of creamy luxurious mash and slathered in a rich, shiny sauce is a sight to warm the very cockles of any heart. This recipe can also be made in a slow-cooker set to low when you leave for work in the morning (see below for details). You can get fresh lamb stock in plastic pouches at good supermarkets and specialty food stores, and I reckon it’s worth the effort but if you can’t find it, half chicken and half beef stock works well too. If you’re trying to impress someone, this is your recipe. It’s amazing.

For those of you worried about the wine – there will be no alcohol in the finished dish, as it all evaporates in the oven. If you would still prefer not to use it, use extra stock instead.

Ingredients

4-5 large lamb shanks
Grape seed or rice bran oil, for frying
3 tbsp olive oil
25g butter
2 onions, finely chopped
1 large carrot, finely chopped
2 sticks celery, finely chopped
2 shallots, chopped
7 cloves garlic, roughly chopped
1 1/2 cups red wine (any kind)
1/4 cup tomato paste
1 bunch thyme, leaves finely chopped
2-3 sprigs fresh rosemary, leaves chopped
1 1/2 cups lamb stock (or use 1/2 beef 1/2 chicken)
1 x 400g can chopped tomatoes
Pinch cayenne pepper (optional)
2 bay leaves (fresh if you can find them)
1 1/2 tsp sugar
25g butter
Chopped fresh parsley, to serve

Method

Preheat the oven to 140c conventional bake.

Bring the shanks out of the fridge 20-30 minutes before frying if you can.

Cut through the tendon that connects the meat to the bone at the bottom of the shank – this will allow the meat to bunch up nicely. Season the shanks generously with salt and pepper.

Heat a large frying pan over a very high heat. Add 2 tablespoons of grape seed or rice bran oil, then brown the shanks a couple at a time, turning until really dark brown all over (browning creates a great depth of flavour you get once they’re cooked). Set the shanks aside in a large casserole dish (or a slow cooker).

Reduce the heat to medium and add the olive oil, butter, onions, carrot, celery, garlic and shallots to the same frying pan. Cook, stirring, for 10 minutes until the veges are golden and soft.

Turn up the heat to high, add the wine, bring to a rapid simmer and let it bubble for 30 seconds or so to burn off the alcohol.

Add the tomato paste, thyme, rosemary, lamb (or other) stock, tomatoes, cayenne pepper, bay leaves and sugar to the pan and stir to combine. Pour or spoon carefully over the shanks. Cover with the lid (or 2 layers of tinfoil) and bake in the oven for 4 hours (or about 8 hours in the slow cooker on low), spooning cooking liquid over the shanks every now and then. The meat should be almost falling off the bone by the end.

Gently remove the shanks using tongs or a large spoon (careful as they will be very delicate) and set aside in a dish covered in foil (at 50c in the oven if you want them to stay warm).

Strain the cooking liquid and veges through a colander/sieve into a large saucepan (you don’t have to strain it if you like a chunky sauce). Discard the veges (unless you want to eat them) but keep any bits of meat. How much cooking liquid you have leftover depends on how much steam evaporated during cooking. There’s no right or wrong amount.

Add the butter to the sauce and boil for about 10 minutes to reduce slightly, or until it’ a nice pouring sauce. You may need to add 2-3 tsp cornflour mixed with 1/4 cup water to thicken it up.

Season to taste with salt and cracked pepper.

Serve the shanks over creamy mashed potatoes, alongside steamed green vegetables drizzled with olive oil and sprinkled with lemon zest. Pour the sauce generously over the top. Sprinkle with parsley and lemon zest if you like. And of course, if you’re partial to a glass or two of cheeky red, slurp away (you have half a bottle left, remember!). Shankerific!


Tips for Making Slow Roasted Lamb Shanks in the Oven

  • The most important tip for making roasted lamb shanks in the oven is to make sure the lamb shanks are wrapped extremely well with foil. That's why I wrap the shanks with 2 layers of foil because we don't want any moisture to escape. I recommend wrapping each shank individually rather than adding a foil on top of a baking pan. It makes a difference, trust me.
  • I prefer to use parchment paper AND foil for my foil packets. The parchment paper is what's in contact with the food, and the foil is creating an airtight enclosure where the moisture can't escape.
  • Slice 1" sections into the lamb shank and stuff the meat with garlic cloves. I add about 5 slits to each lamb shank and stuff with a half garlic clove.
  • This recipe takes about 4 hours of cooking, so you will need to plan ahead time-wise before starting. You can marinate the lamb shank the night before, or 15 minutes before putting it in the oven.

Recipe Corner: Shish Kebab and Kouzou Kuzartma (Baked Lamb Shanks)

Recipes courtesy of the late Stanley G. Kooyumjian, a Fresno native and beloved restaurateur and proprietor of the famous Stanley’s Armenian Cuisine Restaurants in Fresno for many years.

Stanley’s Shish Kebab

3 pounds lean leg of lamb, cut into 2-ounce cubes

1 1/2 cups yellow or white onions, diced

1 cup green bell pepper, diced*

1 cup fresh parsley, minced

2-3 large garlic cloves, finely minced

Mashed Potato Pancakes From Salpy’s International Kitchen

1/2 cup inexpensive red wine, such as Carlo Rossi burgundy, or juice of one large freshly squeezed lemon

*Diced red onions, zucchini, red or yellow bell peppers, and cherry tomatoes may be used in this recipe.

Preparation:

In a medium (non-corrosive) bowl, combine cubed lamb, onions, bell pepper, parsley and garlic. Add salt and pepper. Pour wine (or lemon juice) and olive oil over lamb and vegetables, then mix well. Cover tightly, refrigerate, and allow to marinate 6-24 hours. Mix occasionally.

Thread meat onto skewers or alternate with pieces of onions and bell peppers (and other vegetables, if used). Place skewers on hot grill over hot coals or under hot broiler. Turn as needed to cook uniformly on all sides until the meat is medium doneness (browned well on the outside and still pink on the inside). Serve with rice or bulgur pilaf.

Stanley’s Kouzou Kuzartma (Baked Lamb Shanks)

Ingredients:

4 lamb shanks, preferably from a leg of lamb

4 cups sliced white or yellow onions

1 bell pepper, coarsely chopped

1/4 cup minced fresh parsley, reserving ½

1 28 oz. can crushed tomatoes in puree or diced tomatoes, drained

1/2 cup California burgundy wine, to taste

Preparation:

Preheat oven to 225-250 degrees. Thoroughly salt and pepper lamb shanks. In a roasting pan with rack, add water and place lamb shanks on rack. Bake uncovered for 2 hours. While shanks are browning in oven, proceed with sauce. In a skillet, sauté onions, garlic and bell pepper until onions are opaque. Add crushed or diced tomatoes, wine and 1/2 of the parsley. Salt and pepper to taste. Remove shanks from oven. Remove rack, drain liquid, and discard. Spread sauce evenly over shanks. Cover lightly with lid or foil and place in oven.

Bake at 350 degrees for 1 hour. Remove lid or foil and return to oven for 30 minutes. Garnish with remaining sauce and parsley, and serve with rice or bulgur pilaf.

Note: <http://fresnobeehive.com/2010/07/farewell_stanle.html> The Fresno Bee’s blog item on Stanley Kooyumjian’s passing at age 77 in 2010 drew remembrances and condolences from Stanley’s many customers and dedicated employees who testified to the high caliber of Stanley’s traditional Armenian dishes, the unrivaled excellence of his food, wine, and service, and to Stanley’s exceptional professionalism and character as a friend, and a respected community and business leader for decades.

*Many of Stanley Kooyumjian’s original recipes are reprinted from A Harvest of Recipe Cookbook, Pilgrim Armenian Congregational Church, Fresno


Reviews

Pretty tasty and mostly hands off. I halved the recipe, used whole canned tomatoes, thickened the sauce by boiling it down (without the meat) and using my immersion blender, then added meat back in for 10-15 minutes. Served over cauliflower mash.

Very good with a few extra steps and a few removed. - Add celery with the onions and carrots. - You don't need to chop the herbs - they'll fall apart in the braise. - You can use water instead of broth if you don't have it. - Skim the fat as you go. - When the lamb is done, boil the remaining sauce down, strain through a sieve and add a little butter. Creates a silky, rich sauce.

Made this dish for my family while visiting my daughter during Christmas. It was fabulous. Everyone was raving about it. We served it with roasted root vegetables. Will definitely make it again!

This dish was really, really delicious. My only regret was I did not have the butcher cut the lamb shanks in half because even with just four instead of 6 as the recipe calls for, I could barely fit and submerge all 4 in an 8 quart Le Creuset pot. I will definitely make it again and again.

So I tried this a slightly different way. I have a Tagine that I dont use enoug, so since it was a hot summer day, I did it outside on the Propane BBQ in a Tagine. It came out fall off the bone delicious, I Pureed and thickened the sauce, I served it with herbed roasted potatoes and carrot that I did in a cast Iron pan on the BBQ I will certainly be making it again.

This was incredibly delicious and pretty straightforward to make. You *do* end up with tons of extra braising liquid. As another reviewer suggested, using an immersion blender to puree the veggies thickened it up and made a great sauce, but you'll still have tons more than you'll have lamb to go with it. Have pups? Use as a kibble topping for like a week and make them happy!

This is simple and delicious. I used white wine instead of red. Sauvignon blanc from Sutter home to be exact. I will make again for Thanksgiving. Yummmmmm!

I modified this recipe to make it in the oven. It was simple and delicious. I used half the stock and baked at 160 °C for

2 hours. I covered the dish with foil.

This was amazing with potato parsnip mash!

How easy and delicious this is! I was pleasantly surprised. Didn't have a pot big enough to fit all the shanks and the sauce, so I added to a roasting pan and put it in the oven covered with foil at 450 for about 3 hours, turning the shanks every 30 minutes so both sides would get flavor. Served with roasted potatoes. My guests were raving!

My wife took a bite and said "Silly Awesomeness" I took that to mean she really liked this recipe. I make this about 2-3 times a year & the gravy is KING!! YUM

It's been my Dad's lamb shank recipe for years, and I've made it my own. Simple and delicious.

My company really enjoyed this dish! I used up about 15 frozen Russian garlic I had in the freezer and used up some chopped frozen rosemary. I wanted to use my oven as I have a counter top stove didn't want to serve my appys around the heat. In the oven at 375 for 2-1/2 hours then I removed them to my crockpot just to keep heated. I strained the veggies and cooked down the liquids until it was half the volume. I added equal parts of butter/flour, some Dijon mustard, a couple shakes of hot sauce, salt and pepper. The meat was tender . the sauce was delicious. I would certainly do this recipe again.

Delicious! Can't wait to make it again.

Only changes were to add a couple of pieces of lemon peel in addition to the zest, and to use an immersion blender to smooth out the chunky sauce. Served with rosemary pappardelle. Melt in your mouth delicious.

This is my favourite recipe for lamb shanks. I've made it numerous times and I'm making it again for Easter. The sauce has such a good fresh flavour I save any extra and freeze it for later.

just made this last on the recommendation of someone else and it came out great. I followed the recipe exactly with the exception of only using 1/2 bottle of wine and a little less stock than recommended to reduce the amount of liquid. after it was done, I reduced the remaining sauce for about 20 minutes (prob. could have done less). I strained out the vegetables and chilled it so I could skim off fat. I separately sauteed diced carrot, onion and celery -- plated with polenta, diced veggies, lamb shank on the bone and sauce over the top of it all. Looked gorgeous and was so easy highly recommend discarding overcooked veggies and making fresh ones to serve that still have some life to them when making stews braises -- it makes a world of difference!

Very good recipe- I liked a lot, the BF LOVED! I halved the recipe for two people, added a few potatoes and baby bellas, and a little cumin. Used a combo of sweeter and drier wines, only beef stock. Cooked as recommended, but needed to add some more liquid towards the end when reducing so added more beef stock and some port. Served over garlic rice and green beans, big hit, will definitely make again.

Just made this again for guests who couldn't stop raving. It is easy to make and good for doing a day ahead so you are not stuck in the kitchen and can enjoy your guests instead. Cooking a day ahead also allows the flavors to blend more. And you can skim off the fat more easily. I like more of the chunky stew taste, so did not puree. While it was a lot of sauce, serving over mashed potatoes was excellent to sop it up.

Great Recipe! I didn't use fresh Tyme or Rosemary. Served it with mashed potatos and I added extra fresh tomatos and extra carrots. I had way to much liquid left over. I ended up putting some of it in a food processor and then added to ground beef and made meat pies! Great!

This dish was so flavorful, tender and delicious. The receipe was simple and I felt like a 5 star chef serving this dish.

This was an excellent recipe. After reading the reviews, one cook stated it was a chunky uneven sauce. So I used my mini-processor to process the onion,garlic and carrots into a fine chop. This resulted in a thicker more finely even chunk sauce after reducing at the end. A key point is to use plenty of fresh rosemary and thyme in this dish. The result is wonderfully flavored dish with the tender meat practically falling off the bone. Both my husband and I thought this was a very tasty recipe. I definitely recommended it to everyone.

Four forks. It's a keeper. Used half bottle of wine for four shanks, three cloves of garlic (I mean, really, ten?), and got mixed up by the imperial system so ended up with a 400g can of tomatoes. Even with the smaller volume of liquid the sauce reduction took a while, but not a problem. Meat fell off the bone, lumpy veg sauce was perfect with buttery mash. The women at table expected there was too much meat, but they cleaned their plates. One good suggestion from a country girl was to scoop out the marrow and stir it in to the sauce. Lots of sauce left over. Next time I'll sieve it and add a knob of butter. Thanks for the recipe.

This was an incredible recipe. My husband raved that this was even better than the lamb shanks he had in Paris, of which he has spoken about for years. I did add garlic to the recipe, adding it in at the same time as the rosemary. The recipe had fantastic flavor and the meat feel off the bone. Do not miss the root veggy mash, it really compliments the dish. I highly recommend this dish to everyone, as does my husband.

OMG! This was a fantastic recipe. My husband rated it a 5, on a 1 to 4 scale. I made two small alterations to the recipe as written. First I added garlic to the mix. I added it with the rosemary. Secondly, I cooked the shanks for 2 hours covered, then uncovered and simmered 30minutes longer to thicken the sauce. The shanks were so tender the meat fell off the bone! The root veggie mash is a must to make with this recipe. I highly recommend this recipe to all. It is nothing short of fabulous!


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