I’ll go ahead and warn you ahead of time: these lamb shanks are amazing. I’ve eaten lamb on more than a few occasions, and this is one of the best preparations I’ve ever had. Just making sure I get that out of the way before we dive in…
Lamb shanks, which are a cut from the lower leg (just below the knee), are not the most popular part of the animal, but they’re just as good as the rest. The key is low and slow cooking, and this certainly fits the bill.
The process is pretty simple, and the only time-consuming step is the actual baking, so plan ahead. The lamb shanks get rubbed with some seasonings, then baked for a while atop a bed of garlic, onions, and diced tomatoes. When the lamb is done, the vegetables and drippings turn into a wonderful sauce.
When these finish cooking, the meat will be exceedingly tender and have only the slightest hint of that gamey lamb flavor. The sauce will cook down and thicken up into a slightly sweet, slightly tangy syrup (which in truth, is probably my favorite part of the dish). Serve these lamb shanks alongside some roasted potatoes and carrots and you’ve got yourself a fine fall dinner.
- 3-4 lamb shanks
- Swirl of olive oil
- Pinch of salt and pepper
- 1 tsp smoked paprika
- 1 tsp cinnamon
- Leaves from 1 small branch fresh rosemary, about 1 tsp, divided
- 4-5 cloves garlic, crushed
- 1 medium onion, halved and sliced
- 1 cup diced tomatoes
- 1 cup chicken or beef broth
- 1/3 cup balsamic vinegar
- In a shallow dish, drizzle the lamb shanks with olive oil, then add the salt, pepper, paprika, cinnamon, and half of the rosemary. Toss with a spoon or your hands to coat the meat thoroughly.
- Spread the garlic, onion, and tomatoes in the bottom of a glass or ceramic 9 x 13 (or similar) pan. Place the lamb shanks over the top, making sure to scrape any seasoning out of the bowl onto the meat.
- In a 450 F oven, bake the lamb for about 30 minutes. Reduce heat to 225 F.
- In a medium bowl, combine the broth and vinegar. Pour this mix over the lamb shanks, then cover dish with foil.
- Bake lamb until tender and easily poked with a knife, about 2, maybe 2 1/2 hours.
- Turn the shanks over in the pan, increase the oven to 350 F, and bake, uncovered, for an additional 15 minutes. If the lamb is not tender enough, continue to flip and bake in 10 minute increments until done.
- Move the lamb shanks onto a plate and keep in a warm place. Pour the contents of the baking dish into a medium saucepan, and simmer for about 10 minutes, or until the sauce has thickened.
- Serve the lamb smothered in sauce.
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