Slow Cooked Lamb Shanks in Red Wine Sauce is a definite winning winter dish. The red wine becomes deeply concentrated as it cooks, flavouring the tender, succulent lamb.
A Conversation Stopper
One of the yard sticks l use to determine how well-loved a meal is, is by the amount of conversation at dinner time.
When there is no conversation, it means that all parties are too busy relishing what’s on their dinner plates to engage in small talk. That’s when l know l have a real winner. I call these types of meals ‘conversation stoppers’, but for all the right reasons.
l’m not suggesting that if there’s lots of chatter, that my family doesn’t like what’s on offer. It just seems that when l’ve really hit the mark, they don’t want to interrupt their enjoyment with conversation.
Slow Cooked Lamb Shanks in Red Wine Sauce is one of those conversation stoppers.
“I cook with wine. Sometimes l even add it to the food”. W.C. FIELDS
A wine connoisseur, l definitely am not. Most of the wine which l use in my cooking has been gifted to me, so l really couldn’t tell you whether it’s expensive or not. I suggest not getting too hung up on the quality of the wine, and use what you’ve got or at least a wine that’s not too expensive.
If you don’t want to use wine at all, substitute with beef stock. It will be just fine!
What you need is time!
The steps in the recipe are very easy to follow, which is why l have only photographed the main ones. What’s most important, though, is time. The longer you cook the lamb shanks the more tender and succulent they will be. It’s not something that can be rushed.
The long cook time also allows the flavours to combine, and creates a deeply flavoured, rich sauce. Some sauces require extra simmering time on the stove to thicken; you could certainly do that, l don’t usually find that necessary.
If you do make this dish, l hope that all you’ll hear at your dinner table are the sounds of silence. 🤫
Preparation Time: 15 mins
Cook Time: 2 1/2 – 3 hrs
- 2 tbsp olive oil
- 1/4 cup plain/all purpose flour
- 4 lamb shanks, roughly 350 g/12 oz each (note 1)
- 1 large brown onion, roughly chopped
- 1 tbsp garlic, grated
- 2 tbsp tomato paste
- 1 1/2 cups red wine (note 2)
- 2 cups beef stock
- 2 cups passata/tomato puree
- 1/4 cup balsamic vinegar (note 3)
- 6 sprigs fresh thyme or 2 tsp dried thyme (note 4)
- 2 fresh rosemary sprigs or 1 tsp dried rosemary
- salt & pepper to taste
- Preheat oven to 180 C/350 F.
- Optional: Trace lid of your pot with baking/parchment paper. Cut it out. Set aside (note 5).
- Pat the lamb shanks dry with a paper towel. Toss them in flour. Shake off any excess.
- Heat half the oil in a large heavy based pot over high heat.
- Sear the shanks in two batches until brown all over. Remove and set aside.
- Turn down the heat to medium. Add the remaining oil to the pot and cook the onion until soft and golden. Add the garlic and cook for a further 30 seconds.
- Add 2 tbsp of tomato paste. Stir it through the onion mixture. Cook until the tomato paste turns a deep red (around 2 minutes).
- Pour in a little wine and stir to dissolve the tomato paste. Add the remainder of the wine, beef stock, passata and balsamic vinegar into the pot. Stir to combine.
- Place the lamb shanks into the pot. You may have to jiggle them around a bit to make them fit. They should be mostly covered by liquid. Add the herbs.
- Bring pot to the boil. Place the baking paper on top of the shanks. Place the lid on. Transfer to the oven. Bake for 2 1/2 hours or until the meat is tender but still on the bone.
- Carefully remove shanks from pot. Cover with foil to keep warm. Remove herbs.
- Strain the sauce into a bowl. Return strained sauce to the pot. Simmer sauce to desired consistency. I usually don’t need to. Add salt and pepper to taste (note 6).
- Serve lamb shanks on a bed of mashed potato, cauliflower puree or parsnip puree with lots of red wine sauce.
- Lamb shanks can have rather long bones, which makes them difficult to fit into pots. My butcher is more than happy to trim off the ends if necessary. My pot, which looks like one of the expensive brands but really isn’t (thank you Aldi), measures 23 cm/9″ in diameter and 11 cm/5″ in depth.
- I mentioned in my intro that l don’t go out of my way to buy expensive wine. I don’t think you need to. If you want to omit the wine altogether, substitute with more beef stock.
- Balsamic vinegar adds a touch of sweetness and a darker colour to the sauce.
- If you use fresh herbs, tie them together with some cooking twine. They’ll be easier to fish out at the end.
- The baking/parchment paper will make washing the lid of your pot a million times easier. It protects it from the splattering sauce.
- Don’t throw out the strained onions!! They are fabulous as a base on a pizza or on your toast at breakfast time.