Braised Lamb Shanks Recipe

Want a mouth watering braised lamb shanks recipe that will get that meat falling off the bone and melting in your mouth with a full flavour that will have your dinner friends singing your praises? If so, then this is the recipe for you. It combines red wine and dark beer – a cooking marriage made in heaven.

Braised Lamb Shanks Recipe

Photo: Francis Ritchie. This is how the dish turned out for me.

Ok, this isn’t the sort of thing I would normally write about here, but I have to share it. I cooked braised lamb shanks on a bed of creamy mashed potato and a side of beans last night. I had a pea mash as well, but that didn’t need to be there so I wouldn’t bother with it when making this again. My braised lamb shanks recipe was largely borrowed from the Monteith’s website where it exists as a match for their Black Beer. I made it with some adjustments, so here is my slightly adjusted braised lamb shanks recipe.

Ingredients for Braised Lamb Shanks (Serves 4)

4 x lamb shanks
2 cups red wine (a decent Merlot is perfect for this as you want those rich savoury flavours. I used a Villa Maria Organic Merlot). Don’t break the bank on the wine, just get something you would like to drink.
1 x 330ml bottle of Monteith’s Black Beer (or any other suitable dark beer – again you want full, rich flavours. The malt flavour in this beer is a winner)
5 x sprigs of fresh thyme (dried will do for the herbs as well).
5 x sprigs of fresh rosemary
2 x carrots
3 x red onions
8 x celery sticks

  • Important note: if you’re new to this sort of stuff, you don’t need to be religious about sticking to the recipe as I clearly wasn’t with the Monteith’s one. It’s about getting the taste you want and using what’s available.

Braised Lamb Shanks Recipe Method

  1. Wash vegetables and cut rustically. (Apart from the carrots, these are for flavour only. Most of it is disposed of after braising).
  2. Roll shanks in salt and cracked pepper (I crushed rock salt and pepper corns together in a mortar and pestle but do whatever works best for you). Sear in a hot pan to seal the meat.
  3. Place shanks in a deep roasting dish. Add the wine, beer, vegetables, herbs. The shanks need to be submerged in liquid so use water to top it up until they’re covered. The less water you have to use, the better. Cover with a layer or two of tinfoil and seal.
  4. Cook at 150-160ºC for 4 to 5 hours, looking for the meat to give upon touch (it was right for me after just over 4 hours).
  5. Remove the dish from the oven and place it somewhere to cool for 15 minutes. If you are too quick here, the meat will fall off as you try to remove it from the dish. This is a good time to mash your potatoes.
  6. Remove the braised lamb shanks from the liquid. This can be difficult as the meat is so tender and they can fall apart easily. Remove other vegetables out of the way first if necessary and then use a utensil to get under the shanks and scoop them out. Place them in another dish. Taste the carrots, if you like them (which I do), place them in the dish as well. cover with the tinfoil you’ve already used. Put them in your oven’s warming draw (if you have one) while you pull the dish together.
  7. To make the jus, strain the remaining braising liquid. Return strained liquid to heat and reduce by approximately half. This done by boiling or simmering for a time depending on how quickly you want to get it done – stir occassionally. Whisk in a knob of cold butter. Season to taste though it shouldn’t need it due to the salt and pepper that was on the shanks. Note: the point of the reduction process is to thicken the liquid slightly and to concentrate the flavour. Keeping in mind how much you may want, there may be too much liquid to begin with, you’ll need to judge this. You can speed this up by disposing of some of the liquid if there is too much, but remember, you want to reduce it to half.
  8. Serve the braised lamb shanks on creamy mashed potato with the jus drizzled over it, and any other accompaniment.
  • Note: If you want to understand what’s happening with the braising, check this out. It’s good to know what’s going on so you understand why the amount of time is important and so you know when what you’ve done has worked or not. Braising has stages and you want to eat the meat at the right stage.

For the mashed potato, to get it creamy I use a mix of butter and milk and lots of elbow grease (I work up a minor sweat to get it really creamy). For this dish I also added feta and a bit of lemon zest to taste.

I added an accompaniment of lightly sauteed green beans (in butter – use a small amount of oil to prevent the butter from burning – and salt). Don’t overdo these as you want them to remain crunchy so they add as a balance of texture against the softness of the potato and braised lamb shanks. If you don’t like beans, try something else that also adds some colour and crunch to the plate.

I also had small, crusty bread rolls that I warmed in the oven. We added lashings of butter to these and used them to mop up the juices on the plate. Yum!

There you go. After making this dish a few different ways this braised lamb shanks recipe is my favourite by far. Both your chosen red wine and black beer make a good match to drink with the dinner as the exact same flavours are there in the dish. My wife had the Villa Maria Organic Merlot when we ate it and I had the Monteith’s Black Beer. If you try it, let me know how this braised lamb shanks recipe works for you.