Cooking lamb shanks is easy!

Lamb shank
Being a tough cut of meat that needs slow cooking to make it fall-off-the-bone tender, lamb shanks are actually very forgiving so it’s a real easy cut to cook with. You literally cannot overcook lamb shanks. Cook for an hour too long and the meat is still succulent and juicy. The worst that will happen is that the meat falls off the bone when you go to serve.
Serves 4, Prep: 10 mins, Cook Time: 2 hrs 50 mins, DIFFICULTY: EASY
  • 4 lamb shanks , around 400g each (sizes vary considerably so make sure you get ones that will fit in your cooking vessel!)
  • 1 tsp each salt and pepper
  • 2 – 3 tbsp olive oil , separated
  • 1 cup onion , finely diced (brown or white)
  • 3 garlic cloves , minced
  • 1 cup carrot , finely diced
  • 1 cup celery , finely diced
  • 2 1/2 cups / 625 ml red wine, full bodied (good value wine, not expensive!)
  • 28 oz / 800g can crushed tomatoes
  • 2 tbsp tomato paste
  • 2 cups / 500 ml chicken stock, low sodium (or water)
  • 5 sprigs of thyme (preferably tied together), or 2 tsp dried thyme
  • 2 dried bay leaves (or 4 fresh)
  • Preheat the oven to 350F/180C.
  • Pat the lamb shanks dry and sprinkle with salt and pepper.
  • Heat 2 tbsp of olive oil in a heavy based pot over high heat. Sear the lamb shanks in 2 batches until brown all over, about 5 minutes.
  • Remove lamb onto a plate and drain excess fat (if any) from the pot.
  • Turn the heat down to medium low. Heat remaining 1 tbsp of olive oil in the same pot, if needed. Add the onion and garlic, cook for 2 minutes.
  • Add carrot and celery. Cook for 5 minutes until onion is translucent and sweet.
  • Add the red wine, chicken stock, crushed tomato, tomato paste, thyme and bay leaves. Stir to combine.
  • Place the lamb shanks into the pot, squeezing them in to fit so they are mostly submerged. 
  • Turn stove up, bring to a simmer. Cover, then transfer to the oven for 2 hours.
  • Remove from oven, remove lid, then return to the oven for another 30 minutes (so 2 1/2 hours in total). Check to ensure lamb meat is ultra tender (use 2 forks) – if not, cover and keep cooking. Ideal is tender meat but still just holding onto bone.
  • Remove lamb onto plate and keep warm. Pick out and discard bay leaves and thyme.
  • Strain the sauce into a bowl, pressing to extract all sauce out of the veggies. Pour strained sauce back into pot. Bring to simmer over medium heat and reduce slightly to a syrupy consistency. Add salt and pepper to taste.
  • Serve the lamb shanks on mashed potato or cauliflower puree with seasonal vegetables! Garnish with thyme leaves if desired.