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Braised Lamb Shanks

Yield: 4  entrée servings

  • 4 lamb shanks (ask the butcher to crack the bone in half)
  • salt & freshly ground pepper to taste
  • 1 Tbs. grape seed oil
  • 2 Tbs. flour
  • 1 large onion
  • 8 cloves garlic
  • 2  small carrots
  • 1 stalk celery
  • 3 tomatoes, peeled & seeded (or use canned)
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 cup red wine
  • optional: handful of pitted olives (your favorite or Kalamata)

Tools: A pressure cooker, or follow the instructions for oven-braising at the end of the recipe

Generously season the lamb shanks with salt and pepper, flour them lightly, shaking off excess, and brown them in one tablespoon oil in a heavy frying pan, turning after a few minutes, to brown all sides. Be careful not to burn them.

While browning shanks, dice peeled onions and carrots, and the celery into fairly small pieces.  Peel garlic and chop, keeping it aside. Prepare the tomatoes (if using fresh).

Heat pressure cooker to “brown” level (for a stove-top cooker, medium-high heat). Add onions, carrots and celery — you shouldn't need any oil if using the electric, but you might need an additional tablespoonful for the stove-top cooker. Season vegetables lightly with salt and pepper. Cook, stirring frequently, until soft and starting to brown. Add the garlic and tomatoes, and continue to cook for a few minutes more.

Add browned shanks to the vegetables in the pressure cooker, and deglaze browning pan with the wine, then pour that over the shanks. Add the bay leaf and olives, cover the pressure cooker, and set for 40 minutes on “high.”

Once cooked, release pressure manually and test the shanks—they should be very tender. Serve with the sauce, letting fat rise to the top and skimming it first.

Oven Braised:

You need one added ingredient: a cup or so of meat or chicken broth (or in a pinch, water), as you'll need liquid to come 1/3 of the way up the side of the shanks for braising without a pressure cooker.

Choose a heavy sauteuse-style pan (straight sided, covered pan, 3 inches or so deep) for this dish. Preheat the oven to 350°F. Brown the lamb shanks in the pan, remove, and add the vegetables, cooking until soft just as you would above. Add the wine, bring to a boil, return the shanks to the pan, cover, and bake for about 1 1/2 hours, turning twice during that time.