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Braised Lamb Shanks with Gremolata and Baked Polenta

Braised Lamb Shanks with Gremolata and Baked Polenta


This lamb shank recipe calls for cooking them uncovered in their broth. It simultaneously browns and braises them, adding richness and color. Braise them a day ahead; the flavor will deepen overnight in the fridge.

Ingredients

Lamb shanks

  • 6 lb. lamb shanks (6–8 shanks, depending on size), trimmed
  • 2 Tbsp. kosher salt plus more for seasoning
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 tsp. minced fresh rosemary
  • 1 tsp. coarsely ground fennel seeds
  • 7 garlic cloves, 1 grated, 6 minced
  • 2 Tbsp. unbleached all-purpose flour
  • ½ tsp. crushed red pepper flakes
  • 2 cups drained canned diced tomatoes
  • 4 cups (or more) low-sodium chicken broth

Polenta

  • 1½ cups polenta (coarse cornmeal)
  • 1½ cups finely grated Parmesan
  • 2 Tbsp. (¼ stick) unsalted butter
  • Freshly ground black pepper

Gremolata and assembly

  • ¾ cup flat-leaf parsley leaves
  • 1 Tbsp. finely grated lemon zest
  • 1 tsp. minced fresh rosemary

Recipe Preparation

Lamb shanks

  • Place lamb on a large rimmed baking sheet; season all over with 2 Tbsp. salt and generously with pepper. Mix rosemary, fennel seeds, and grated garlic in a small bowl; massage into lamb. Cover and let stand at room temperature for 1 hour or, preferably, chill overnight.

  • Preheat oven to 350°. Heat oil in a large wide heavy pot over medium-high heat. Add onions, season with salt and pepper, and cook, stirring occasionally, until golden, 8–10 minutes.

  • Add minced garlic, flour, paprika, and red pepper flakes. Stir vigorously to distribute flour. Cook, stirring often, until mixture becomes dry, about 1 minute. Add tomatoes and wine. Simmer briskly, stirring often, until juices thicken and tomatoes begin to break down, about 10 minutes.

  • Gradually stir in 4 cups broth. Simmer until flavors meld, 3–4 minutes. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Add lamb shanks to pot in a single layer, pushing them down into sauce (add additional broth if needed so that shanks are about ¾ submerged).

  • Roast, uncovered, until tops of shanks have browned, about 30 minutes. Using tongs, turn shanks over and roast for 30 minutes longer.

  • Cover and cook, turning shanks occasionally, until meat is fork-tender and almost falling off the bone, 45 minutes to 1½ hours (time will depend on size of shanks). Remove from oven and skim off fat from surface of sauce. Let shanks rest in liquid for at least 30 minutes.

  • DO AHEAD: Lamb shanks can be made 1 day ahead. Refrigerate uncovered until cold, then cover and keep chilled.

Polenta

  • Preheat oven to 350°. Stir polenta, oil, salt, and 7½ cups water in a 13x9x2” baking dish to blend. Bake, uncovered, for 1¼ hours. Stir in cheese and butter and season with pepper. Smooth top and continue baking until polenta is set and jiggles like custard, 25–30 minutes.

  • Meanwhile, discard any fat from surface of lamb shank mixture and bring to a simmer over medium heat. Cover, reduce heat to low, and simmer gently, occasionally turning shanks and stirring sauce, until heated through, about 20 minutes. If using large shanks, remove from pot; let cool slightly, then coarsely shred meat from bones. Return meat to sauce. (If you have 8 small shanks, you can serve them whole, setting them directly atop polenta.)

  • Preheat broiler. Broil polenta, watching very closely to prevent burning, until surface is light golden, 5–7 minutes. Serve immediately for a softer polenta; for a firmer texture, let rest for up to 30 minutes.

Gremolata and assembly

  • Using a sharp knife, mince parsley (make sure it’s dry). Mix parsley with remaining ingredients in a small bowl; toss to evenly incorporate.

  • Divide polenta among large wide bowls. Spoon meat with juices over. Sprinkle meat generously with gremolata.

Nutritional Content

1 serving contains: Calories (kcal) 790 Fat (g) 34 Saturated Fat (g) 12 Cholesterol (mg) 235 Carbohydrates (g) 34 Dietary Fiber (g) 4 Total Sugars (g) 6 Protein (g) 79 Sodium (mg) 2320Reviews SectionThis is one of my favourite recipes, I have made it multiple times. It is even better the next day when the flavours meld. I put the pot in the refrigerator and just reheat over low heat until it simmers.AnonymousCalgary 05/07/20I made this in the Instant Pot with two pieces of lamb shoulder and it was absolutely incredible. I used about 1.5 lb of meat so I reduced the dry ingredients by about 1/4 and the wet ingredients by about 1/3.Modifications I made: I first seared the lamb in the Instant Pot under the “Sautée” function for about 2 minutes on each side. Then I took out the lamb, and I added the onions and followed the above directions until the part where the lamb is out back in and submerged. (Note: make sure the brown bits sticking to the bottom of the pan have been scraped off when adding the wine and tomatoes so that you don’t get a “burn” error on your instant pot later). Then I set the Instant Pot to Pressure Cook on High for 40 minutes. I also added potatoes in the spaces between the lamb to pressure cook with the lamb but that is optional. At the end, the flavors are melded incredibly well and the meat will be falling off the bone.SABARI ROYAtlanta03/04/19Not sure how this recipe only has 3.5 stars, it is one of the greatest things I've ever cooked/eaten. WOW.Started with 100% grassfed lamb shanks, but only two of them. Halved the shank ingredients, used smoked paprika instead of regular (paid off major in the end), kept the cook time the same. You could eat the meat with a spoon.Polenta was ridiculous, I love that it's mostly cheese instead of butter, better flavor in my opinion.And then the gremolata was the perfect tang/bitter/fresh you need to lighten up this rich winter dish.Just, amazing. 100% worth the many hours it took.AnonymousThe Berkshires01/30/19I've made these several times to rave reviews. I'm currently making them now in fact. I wish they would show what you're supposed to do if you make them a day ahead--how long do you reheat for example.This is a no-fail recipe and a crowd pleaser with delicious layered flavors.

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LAMB SHANKS: Place lamb on a large rimmed baking sheet season all over with 2 Tbsp. salt and generously with pepper. Mix rosemary, fennel seeds, and grated garlic in a small bowl massage into lamb. Cover and let stand at room temperature for 1 hour or, preferably, chill overnight.

Preheat oven to 350°. Heat oil in a large wide heavy pot over medium-high heat. Add onions, season with salt and pepper, and cook, stirring occasionally, until golden, 8-10 minutes.

Add minced garlic, flour, paprika, and red pepper flakes. Stir vigorously to distribute flour. Cook, stirring often, until mixture becomes dry, about 1 minute. Add tomatoes and wine. Simmer briskly, stirring often, until juices thicken and tomatoes begin to break down, about 10 minutes. Gradually stir in 4 cups broth. Simmer until flavors meld, 3-4 minutes. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Add lamb shanks to pot in a single layer, pushing them down into sauce (add additional broth if needed so that shanks are about'/ submerged).

Roast, uncovered, until tops of shanks have browned, about 30 minutes. Using tongs, turn shanks over and roast 30 minutes longer.

Cover and cook, turning shanks occasionally, until meat is fork-tender and almost falling off the bone, 45 minutes

to 11/2 hours (time will depend on size of shanks). Remove from oven and skim off fat from surface of sauce. Let shanks rest in liquid for at least 30 minutes. DO AHEAD: Lamb shanks can be made 1 day ahead.

Refrigerate uncovered until cold, then cover and keep chilled.

POLENTA: Preheat oven to 350°. Stir polenta, oil, salt, and 71/2 cups water in a 13x9x2" baking dish to blend. Bake, uncovered,

for 11/4 hours. Stir in cheese and butter and season with pepper. Smooth top and continue baking until polenta is set and jiggles like custard, 25-30 minutes.

Meanwhile, discard any fat from surface of lamb shank mixture and bring to a simmer over medium heat. Cover, reduce heat to low, and simmer gently, occasionally turning shanks and stirring sauce, until heated through, about 20 minutes. If using large shanks, remove from pot let cool slightly, then coarsely shred meat from bones. Return meat to sauce. (If you have 8 small shanks, you can serve them whole, setting them directly atop polenta.)

Preheat broiler. Broil polenta, watching very closely to prevent burning, until surface is light golden, 5-7 minutes. Serve immediately for a softer polenta for a firmer texture, let rest for up to 30 minutes.

GREMOLATA AND ASSEMBLY Using a sharp

knife, mince parsley (make sure it's dry). Mix parsley with remaining ingredients in a small bowl toss to evenly incorporate.

Divide polenta among large wide bowls. Spoon meat with juices over. Sprinkle meat generously with gremolata.


Recipe Summary

  • 6 lamb shanks
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 onions, chopped
  • 3 large carrots, cut into 1/4 inch rounds
  • 10 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 (750 milliliter) bottle red wine
  • 1 (28 ounce) can whole peeled tomatoes with juice
  • 1 (10.5 ounce) can condensed chicken broth
  • 1 (10.5 ounce) can beef broth
  • 5 teaspoons chopped fresh rosemary
  • 2 teaspoons chopped fresh thyme

Sprinkle shanks with salt and pepper. Heat oil in heavy large pot or Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Working in batches, cook shanks until brown on all sides, about 8 minutes. Transfer shanks to plate.

Add onions, carrots and garlic to pot and saute until golden brown, about 10 minutes. Stir in wine, tomatoes, chicken broth and beef broth. Season with rosemary and thyme. Return shanks to pot, pressing down to submerge. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to medium-low. Cover, and simmer until meat is tender, about 2 hours.

Remove cover from pot. Simmer about 20 minutes longer. Transfer shanks to platter, place in a warm oven. Boil juices in pot until thickened, about 15 minutes. Spoon over shanks.


Lamb Shanks Braised With Red Wine & Rosemary


Our Easter celebration was a little different this year. We usually always spend it with family, but this year it was just my husband and myself, along with little Zoe (our little Yorkie pup). I spent the day cleaning out cupboards in anticipation of our return to Umbria in a few weeks, and then my husband and I shared our dinner preparation. I love lamb for Easter though since some our family members do not care for lamb we rarely prepare it on holidays. I looked at lamb roasts, but with just the two of us eating it, we’d have leftovers for days! We do grill lamb chops from time to time, so that didn’t seem special enough for a holiday meal, so we settled on lamb shanks. My husband loves any braised meats, and it appears that just about any meat can become fall off the bone tender when slow cooked in of sauce.

Usually, I’d serve braised lamb shanks on a bed of soft polenta, risotto, or even mashed potatoes, but I am trying to reduce grains in my diet this month. Instead, I decided I’d serve our lamb with some roasted fingerling potatoes, braised fresh artichokes, and cauliflower gratin. The lamb is cooked for three hours in the sauce, creating a tender shank that just about melted in your mouth. My husband had bought such large pieces of meat that we had lots of leftovers, so I pulled the meat off the bone, shredding it with my fingers, then mixed it in the sauce. I served the sauce on top of whole grain pasta the next day, and it was just as, if not more, tasty! I always serve braised meats topped with a little gremolata, a chopped herbal accompaniment that adds a brightness to hearty meats cooked in this manner such as Osso Buco Milanese. Gremolata is usually a mixture of fresh parsley, garlic, and lemon zest, all chopped together finely, then sprinkled on top of the dish just before serving.


Rachael Ray: Lamb Shanks with Horseradish Gremolata & Oven-Baked Polenta with Honey Recipe Ingredients

Rachael Ray used surprising flavors to whip up a great dinner. Her Lamb Shanks are smothered in a Horseradish Gremolata and served over honey polenta. (allthingschill / flickr)

  • 6 Lamb Shanks
  • 1 tbsp toasted, ground Fennel Seed
  • 1 chopped Onion
  • 1 chopped Carrot
  • 6 cloves sliced Garlic
  • 4 or 5 stripped stems Rosemary
  • 1 tsp Chili Flakes
  • 2 cups Dry White Wine
  • Juice of 1 Lemon
  • 1 chopped bulb Fennel
  • 2 ribs chopped Celery with tops
  • 2 Bay leaves
  • 2 or 3 tbsp Thyme
  • 1/4 cup Tomato Paste
  • 1 quart Lamb Stock (or use 2 cups Chicken Stock + 2 cups Beef Stock)
  • 3 tbsp Olive Oil
  • Salt & Pepper

Gremolata Ingredients

  • Zest of 1 Lemon
  • 1/4 cup grated Horseradish root
  • 1 handful Mint
  • 1 clove crushed Garlic
  • Zest of 1 Orange
  • 1 cup loose packed flat-leaf Parsley
  • 1 handful Chives

Polenta Ingredients

  • 3 tbsp Butter
  • 1 3/4 cups coarse Cornmeal (or use Italian Polenta)
  • 3 tbsp Acacia Honey
  • 2 quarts Chicken Stock
  • 1 cup grated Parmigiano-Reggiano Cheese
  • Salt & Pepper

Get all the tips and tricks here but make sure you scroll down to the printable recipe card below .

Step 1. Combine the flour, salt, and pepper in a dish and dust the lamb chunks and set them on a plate. Heat the oil in a large skillet and sear the dusted lamb chunks to give them a rich crust. As the lamb chunks brown, remove them and reserve on a paper towel-lined plate.

Step 2. Heat the remaining oil in the skillet and cook the onions, carrots, celery and garlic just until the onion is soft. Add the wine to the skillet and cook for 1 minute, scraping the bits from the bottom. Stir in the tomatoes and the beef broth. Return the browned lamb chunks to the skillet and bring to a boil to reheat the lamb.

Step 3. Transfer the mixture to the prepared casserole dish. Add the rosemary sprigs and cover the dish with foil. Place the casserole in the oven and bake. Transfer the casserole to your workspace, remove the foil and allow to rest while making the polenta crust.


Braised Lamb Shanks

I’ve mentioned before that Tom and I aren’t big Valentine’s Day people. We don’t really do anything special to celebrate it. That said, spending so much time on food boards, food blogs, and…well, just being a person who generally enjoys cooking, I’ll typically use it as an excuse to make something I may not ordinarily make. Normally, that thing is a baked good, but this time, there was just no way I was doing that. I felt horrible most of the weekend, and the thought of doing anything remotely intense in the kitchen was not at all appealing to me. For that reason, I hadn’t really planned on making anything special at all, but then I remembered I had a couple lamb shanks in the freezer from Lava Lake Lamb, and decided to make those. It’s not every day we eat lamb (sadly) and shanks are so good when braised, which, thankfully for me, is incredibly easy to do. The dutch oven does all the work for you, really.

I made these quite simply with your standard (or, at least, my standard) braising liquid – broth and wine. I always like adding just a bit of tomato paste to braising liquids because I feel like a little goes a long way in terms of depth of flavor. Since I only made two shanks, I used my smaller casserole (3 qt.) rather than my larger dutch oven. I did have to brown the shanks separately, but otherwise the size was perfect so that the braising liquid went high enough up the pot (covering about half of each shank).

These were delicious, flavorful, and indulgent. Even though braising has such a comforting/homey feel to it, there’s also a great richness that comes from it. I served this with a simpler version (AKA, one that did not have me standing over the stove stirring for 40 minutes) of barley orzotto/risotto with mushrooms & pecorino. I think it was the perfect complement, although some mashed cannellini beans, polenta, or mashed potatoes would be wonderful as well.

Braised Lamb Shanks for 2

olive oil
2 lamb shanks
1 medium onion, cut in half and then thinly sliced
1-2 sprigs of thyme, or a scant 1/2 tsp. dried
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 Tbsp. tomato paste
1 bay leaf
1/2 cup red wine
3/4 cup beef broth

Heat a dutch oven or pan with high sides over medium heat and add enough olive oil to just coat the bottom. Season the lamb shanks liberally with coarse salt and pepper, and then brown in the oil on all sides. Remove from the pot.

Decrease the heat to medium-low and add the onion to the pot, along with the thyme. Cook, stirring frequently, until the onions are golden brown and slightly caramelized, about 10-15 minutes. Stir in the garlic, tomato paste, and bay leaf until the garlic is fragrant.

Increase the heat to medium-high, and then add the red wine to deglaze. Scrape up any browned bits at the bottom of the pot, and then add the beef broth. Season to taste with salt and pepper and bring the mixture to a boil. Add the shanks back in, put a lid on the pot, and turn the heat down to a simmer. Simmer for at least an hour, preferably closer to 1.5-2 hours. Then, remove the lid, increase the heat a bit, and cook an additional 20 minutes to allow the liquid to thicken. (If you want it even thicker, you could always make a water/corn starch slurry and boil it at the very end). Plate the shanks and spoon the reduced braising liquid over the top.


Cooking your lamb shanks

There’s less variation in how the authors go about cooking their shanks, including the process they use and how long it takes.

The process of cooking lamb shanks

As I mentioned earlier, braising is a well-understood and fairly consistent process.

  1. Sear the meat.
  2. Saute aromatics.
  3. Deglaze the pan with braising liquid.
  4. Return the meat to the pan.
  5. Simmer until the meat is fork-tender.

And most authors follow this process almost exactly.

Searing the lamb

This first step is all about flavour. Searing the lamb shanks over high heat kicks off the chemical magic that is the Maillard reaction, producing an array of delicious tastes and aromas. These flavours then merge into the braising liquid during the long cooking time, adding a wonderful depth of flavour to the dish.

A couple of quotes from the authors beautifully highlight the impact of this step.

Anne Burrell says “this is an incredibly important step do not rush it.”

And Nagi from Recipe Tin Eats goes quite a big step further:

“The only key tip I have is to brown that shank as well as you can….If you ever see a slow cooked stew recipe that doesn’t call for browning the meat before slow cooking, proceed with caution!”

Strong words indeed! But almost every author agrees, with only Martha Stewart’s and Bon Appetit’s recipes excluding this step. A couple of others approach it a little differently, briefly roasting their shanks uncovered in a very hot oven, but their goal is the same – browning the meat before it goes into the braising liquid.

Braising the lamb

After the meat is seared, the aromatics are sauteed and everything is put together in a Dutch oven or baking pan, it is cooked for a good length of time to break down the collagen as we discussed earlier. And how this is done is fairly consistent as well.

How much liquid?

The recipes are for a variety of different numbers of serves, but there’s one factor that is consistent amongst most of them regarding how much liquid they use.

Twenty-four authors do not fully cover their lamb with liquid, typically having it come somewhere between one-quarter and three-quarters of the way up the side of the meat.

The other six make a point of fully-submerging the shanks in the braising liquid, more like a traditional stewing technique. They still produce well-regarded results, the main differences being the amount of sauce available when you serve up, and how thick it is.

Stovetop or oven?

While almost every author starts their lamb on the stovetop, all but three continue to cook it in the oven.

There are certainly convenience reasons for this, like freeing up the stove for preparing side dishes, but these are not the main reasons. The main reason is because the indirect heat of the oven is more consistent, making it easier to maintain the ideal low simmer.

Heating a large Dutch oven or other pot from a hot plate or flame underneath certainly works, but is more prone to temperature variations throughout the liquid and the air inside it if the pot is covered. The oven reduces this variability by heating from all sides.

Covered or not?

Another point on which the authors are almost unanimous is whether or not the pot should be covered.

Twenty-four recipes have you cover the pot while the lamb braises. And more than a few stress the fact it should be tightly covered.

A few authors uncover the dish for the last half-an-hour of cooking time, but most leave it covered the entire time, keeping the meat moist. As we know, that moisture is key for hydrolysing the collagen in the shank’s connective tissue.

Still, six authors don’t find it necessary. They all recommend making sure you keep an eye on the amount of liquid in the pot, and also more frequently turning the shanks during cooking. But they all produce well-reviewed results without covering the pot.

Oven temperature

There’s a fairly consistent pattern in the chosen oven temperature, with low and slow obviously favoured.

Twenty-two recipes are cooked in the range of 300-350°F (150-175°C), with only a couple a bit cooler and three hotter.

Amongst these, 350°F (175°C) is the most popular, used by twelve authors. And it’s interesting to note that the others don’t seem to take any longer to cook on average.

Cooking time

The most consistent recommendation for how long your lamb shanks will take in the oven is between two and two-and-a-half hours. Twenty-one recipes are in this range, often with a half-hour window provided. And three of the four stovetop recipes are the same.

Surprisingly the hotter recipes are not really faster to cook on average, and the cooler ones not much slower. No doubt different ovens, and author preferences for just how fall-apart their meat is come into play here.

Only one author, Katerina from Diethood, offers an internal temperature to know when your lamb is done. She suggests the shanks are cooked when they reach 150-160°F (66-71°C). Keep in mind though that this may not be hot enough for the most tender results, because most collagen conversion to gelatin happens at 160°F (71°C) and above. And some say the internal temperature needs to reach 200°F (93°C) or even 210°F (99°C).

Again, time also plays an important role here too. Lower temperatures will work as long as they’ve been held long enough.

The short answer: cook your lamb shanks until the meat is falling off the bone, or can be easily cut with a fork.


What are lamb shanks?

If you’re new to lamb shanks, here’s a rundown: lamb shanks are from the lower leg of lambs, and they are an inexpensive, tough cut of meat.

Because of this, lamb shanks need to be slow cooked – either braised or roasted – to break down the tough meat to soften into succulent tenderness.

The meat itself is full of flavour which adds to the flavour of the sauce.

BONUS: The marrow in the bone melts into the sauce, deepening the flavour and richness. We love freebies around here!!


Arrange four 16同-inch squares of heavy-duty aluminum foil on a work surface. Put one-quarter of the leeks, one-quarter of the carrots, 1 rosemary sprig, and 1 strip of orange zest on each square. Season each with a pinch of crushed red pepper flakes, salt, and pepper. Set aside.

Pat the lamb shanks dry and season generously with salt and pepper. Heat the oil in a large skillet over medium heat until shimmering hot. Working in batches if necessary to avoid crowding, brown the shanks on all sides, about 10 minutes total per batch. Transfer 1 shank to each foil square, arranging it on top of the vegetables. Draw up the edges of the foil to capture any juice, but don’t seal the packets yet.

Return the skillet to medium heat, add the vermouth, and bring to a simmer, scraping the skillet with a wooden spoon. Remove from the heat. Portion the vermouth evenly among the 4 packets, pouring it over the lamb. Dot each shank with a slice of the butter.

Fold the foil to form rectangular packets, sealing the seams tightly. Arrange the packets on a baking sheet it’s fine if they touch but they shouldn’t overlap. Bake for 2-1/2 hours then check for doneness by carefully opening one of the packets (watch out for the steam) and testing the meat with a fork—it should be tender and pulling away from the bone. If necessary, continue to bake for another 10 minutes and check again.

For dessert, serve a simple Apple Crisp with Pecans & Orange with a scoop of vanilla ice cream.


Watch the video: Roasted Lamb Shanks Greek Style