Braised Lamb Shanks to wow your guests

17 Jul

On a trip to Australia some years back, I had some of the best lamb shanks I’ve ever had. Small wonder – Australia is the sheep capital of the world! No, it’s not New Zealand as I’d thought but Australia  – the ratio of sheep to people is 20:1! Well, it wasn’t only the quality of the meat that impressed me but the simplicity of the dish. Just one slow-cooked lamb shank plonked in the middle of a big scoop of mashed potatoes (hey, I was on holiday and not counting carbs!) and served with steamed vegetables. Of course the sauce was divine too.

As usual, like I always do, when I got home from my trip, I started to look for lamb shanks to recreate this dish. Lamb is an expensive meat here in Germany and the choice is limited. Where I live, it is nearly impossible to get fresh lamb. I’ve only seen fresh lamb filets in the supermarket’s butcher counter – that’s almost always available. Most lamb meat is sold frozen. You can get cuts like lamb shoulder, lamb filet, lamb rack, lamb chops and center slices. No stew meat or ground lamb – you have to do your own. I searched and searched but alas, I did not find whole lamb shanks. In the Turkish supermarkets, you can get fresh halal lamb but again, I didn’t really see any shanks – maybe I wasn’t looking hard enough. So anyway, that was the end of my dish.

Last week, I went to get something else out of the meat freezer in my supermarket and couldn’t believe my eyes – there were lots of lamb shanks in there. Seems like there’s now a demand for lamb shanks. So despite the price, I bought two packages – 2 shanks in each package.

I found a recipe which promised to be very easy, and well, I can certainly say that with a little trouble, you can wow your guests and make them think you do such meals all the time. Don’t you think so?

I got a recipe from BBC Good Food here. This recipe wasn’t followed to a tee because I made a mistake which perhaps turned out to be a good thing. I added a large carrot into the stew although the recipe does not call for carrots – had read about carrots somewhere else and got confused. Also didn’t have fresh rosemary – only a bit of dried rosemary left so I subbed thyme. Whether you use the BBC recipe or mine below, you can’t go wrong. Serve the lamb shank with boiled veggies like I did and something else to soak up all that lovely sauce, like low carb spaetzle, low carb pasta, cauliflower rice or just more boiled veggies and you will have a restaurant-quality low carb meal! Pep it all up with a simple side salad.

Braised Lamb Shanks in Red Wine Sauce

(serves 4)

4 lamb shanks (doesn’t matter about the weight, they’re lambs so they can’t be that big)

flour (what! carbs?? – you can omit this but the amount you use is so little, I am not worried here)


olive oil

2 large onions, sliced

1 large carrot, cut into small cubes

2 cloves garlic, peeled and crushed

100ml balsamic vinegar

500ml full bodied red wine (I used a cabernet. Just don’t waste your money on expensive wine.)

2 tbsp tomato purée

a sprig of rosemary or mix rosemary and thyme

Heat the oven to 150 degrees Celsius (convection 130 degrees C).

Dust the lamb shanks with a bit of flour, season with salt and pepper.

In a large pot with a cover which is suitable for both oven and stove top, melt a little butter with some olive oil and brown the lamb shanks on all sides to seal in the juices. Remove onto  a plate.

Next add the onions to the pot and sauté on medium low heat. If necessary, add a bit more olive oil or butter. When the onions are glazed, add the carrots and sauté further for a few minutes. Add the garlic, balsamico, wine, tomato purée and rosemary/thyme. Stir well to mix and season with salt and pepper. Put the lamb shanks back into the pot, bring to a boil, cover and transfer pot to the preheated oven.

Set your timer for 2 1/2 hrs and do something else. When the timer rings, take a fork and gently press the meat to see if it is about to fall off the bone. It’s hard to be precise about timing here cos the larger your lamb shanks, the longer it will take to cook. I thought the lamb shanks I bought weren’t terribly big in size and 2 1/2 hrs seemed just right. If the meat is cooked but not about to fall off, then cook a little longer or do like I did. I turned off the oven and left the pot inside till the oven cooled down.

Remove the shanks gently using a big ladle/spoon from the pot onto a plate. Pour the sauce into a small saucepan or high container, taking care to remove any sprigs of rosemary or thyme floating around. Purée the sauce with a hand-held mixer and adjust the seasoning. Because of the carrot, you should get a nice dense sauce. Should you find the sauce not thick enough, just boil it down or use about a teaspoon of xanthan gum or guar gum. I have guar gum but I don’t like it. I’d rather reduce the sauce or add more carrots next time.

I’m not going to bother doing a nutrition breakdown this time since the lamb shanks vary in weight. However, I can tell you that I had a very good blood glucose reading after my meal. 🙂

Next I’ll post what I did with the leftovers!

Print this recipe – Braised Lamb Shanks in Red Wine Sauce

One Response to “Braised Lamb Shanks to wow your guests”

  1. L.W. John April 14, 2018 at 07:47 #

    Excellent! warms my heart, it does, it does!!!

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