This lamb shank stew is easy to make, hearty and absolutely delicious. You can cook these awesome shanks in the oven, on the stove, or even in your pressure cooker.
Lamb shanks are an inexpensive cut of meat that are practically purpose made for the slow cooker. The shank starts off as a pretty tough, muscular piece of meat. The right cooking method, however, turns the lamb shank into a tender, flavorsome, succulent treat. Slow cooking also adds plenty of depth of flavor with an awesome gravy.
You probably already have most of the ingredients for this sauce on hand. Take a look in your pantry. You probably have some pearl onions, beef stock, garlic, herbs, and tomato puree in there, or most of these ingredients, anyway.
These lamb shanks are absolutely perfect for your Sunday dinner. You can spend your Sunday afternoon slow-cooking the shanks, enjoying a glass of wine and a nice book, waiting for the sauce to work its magic and eventually serve your awesome dinner. One of the coolest things about this style of cooking is that the secret ingredient… is patience! You simply need to set everything up and wait for it to be ready.
How To Slow Cook Lamb Shanks
This recipe is very much inspired by the French classic, beef Bourguignon. We haven't used wine and added a few extra ingredients to accommodate the different flavor profile of a lamb shank when compared to beef. Lamb is a sweeter meat than beef, so there are a few key differences.
- The first thing to do is sear your shanks. The best flavor develops when you brown your meat before doing anything else. This creates layers and depth of flavor from the very start. It also helps to seal the moisture inside your shank instead of allowing it to spill out and sizzle onto the pan before you add the sauce. It can take up to ten minutes to properly brown your shanks, depending on the size of the shank and the size of your pan. Their irregular shape makes searing a little trickier than with chicken or steak. It’s easiest to think of the lamb shank as a pyramid with three sides to sear, that will take 2-4 minutes each to sear.
- The next thing to consider is your choice of aromatics. We’ll be cooking pearl onions, carrot, and garlic in the same oil and pan juices left behind from the browning of the shanks. This helps the overall flavor profile of your dish to continue developing.
- Flour is a key ingredient here, too. It helps to thicken your stew as it cooks.
- There’s a hefty liquid component to this dish. Our choice of liquid is stock, tomato passata and tomato puree. We use this mixture to submerge the shanks, giving them plenty of flavor while tenderizing the meat.
- The final layer of flavor in this sauce is our choice of herbs. We’re using thyme, a classic accompaniment to lamb, with parsley and bay leaves. You can use any herb combination you like, but we strongly recommend starting with this powerful trio. Thyme and oregano are also quite nice here. Any sweetly woody, aromatic herb will work well.
How To Thicken Gravy
If you like thicker gravy, you’ll need to simmer your liquid for about ten minutes. If you don’t feel like waiting, you can mix two to three tablespoons of cornstarch with about a quarter cup of your sauce until dissolved. Do this in a separate cup or bowl from your main pot with the shanks in. Once dissolved, pour this mix into your sauce, stirring quickly until it has dissolved into your pot and completely blended. Let this simmer for four to five minutes, or until it’s thick enough for your personal tastes, and pour generously over your lamb shanks when it’s time to serve.
There are a few substitutions you can make with this recipe. It’s pretty versatile.
When it comes to your tomato sauce, there are a few options. Your classic option would be a passata. You can buy passata in bottles from the supermarket. It’s inexpensive and very useful in a variety of dishes. Pasta sauce will work too. You cannot use ketchup as a substitute for passata or tomato sauce - ketchup is made from other ingredients beside pureed tomatoes and does not fulfil the same role in balancing the flavor palate of this dish.
You can use other woody, aromatic herbs like oregano, sage, or rosemary in place of the herbs we’ve listed here.
What To Serve With Lamb Shanks
Lamb shanks go really well with creamy Mashed Potatoes, sweet potatoes, or perhaps the wild card of Cauliflower Mash. You could, of course, serve lamb shanks with plain rice or pasta. This dish is saucy enough to lubricate either of these carbs enough to make that a tasty, hearty dinner. There’s a lot of flavor in this dish so you’ll want a fairly plain side to go with it.
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