Time for Easter Dinner: Let’s Skip the Ham and Make Some Lamb…Shanks!
by Chef Charles Oppman
With Easter just around the corner, it’s time to break out the lamb recipes. When we think spring lamb, most of think of that boneless roast or a bone-in leg, but let’s try something different. Of course, French cut lamb chops are wonderful, but expensive and lack flavor. Why not do lamb shanks? This is a great cut of lamb for several reasons―fairly inexpensive, bursting with flavor, soft texture and high collagen (when heated, collagen dissolves to provide flavor and gelatinous texture). A meat shank or shin is the portion of meat around the tibia of the animal, the leg bone beneath the knee. Since the leg muscles are well developed they tend to be tough must be braised or slow-baked in the oven. This recipe calls for the braising in the oven. As with any cut of lamb, the shanks are delicious with mint sauce. Please don’t resort to mint jelly. Fresh mint sauce is a snap to make. You just add mint leaves and a pinch of sugar to the natural juices. This is an easy recipe that you’ll love. One caveat, the bone in lamb shanks can be large (this is a good thing because this means more flavor) so compensate for this when judging how many shanks to cook.
3-4 pounds of lamb shanks
¼ cup vegetable oil
1 teaspoon table salt
1 teaspoon black pepper
1 cup onion, diced
1 cup celery, diced
2 tablespoon fresh garlic, chopped
4 bay leaves
1 teaspoon thyme leaves
2 cups beef broth, canned is fine
1 tablespoon Worstershire sauce
6 sprigs fresh mint, finely chopped
- In a heavy skillet or Dutch oven heat the oil over a high flame. Salt and pepper the shanks and sear in hot oil on all sides to form a brown crust.
- Remove and set aside browned shanks. Add the garlic, onion, celery, thyme leaves and bay leaves to the hot skillet. Cook over medium to high flame for 3 minutes.
- Add shanks back to the skillet. Add beef broth and Worstershire sauce. Either place covered skillet in a preheated 300ºF oven or simmer over low fire. Cook until shanks are fork tender, about 1 ½ to 2 hours.
- Remove shanks from skillet and set aside. Strain sauce into a separate container. Skim any oil from surface and discard.
- Return sauce to skillet and reheat. Add chopped mint leaves, salt, pepper and sugar to taste. Reduce sauce until desired consistency is achieved. If too thick add a small amount of canned beef broth. Adjust seasoning to taste.
- Serve with oven-roasted potatoes or couscous and asparagus. Serve sauce in a separate container as desired. Garnish plates with sprigs of fresh mint.