Lamb Shanks, basic method

2 large lamb shanks (or 3 or 4 small ones)

1 big onion, chopped, plus a leek if you have one

several whole garlic cloves

olive oil or butter

salt and pepper

a little orange juice if you have it

dried sour cherries–or prunes or cranberries

1 cup sweet wine or brandy (Marsala, Port, cheap sherry, Cognac, Slivovitz–whatever)

1 1/2 cups water (or broth)

Cook onions slowly in olive oil in an ovenproof pan or dutch oven. I use my medium iron kettle–or the big one if I have more shanks; the pot should be crowded but the meat shouldn’t be piled up.

Rinse lamb shanks. Add lamb, peeled garlic cloves, 1 cup water, orange juice if you have it, liquor, salt, pepper (whole peppercorns are nice), and dried cherries. The liquid should not quite cover the meat so little islands stick up. Cover and bring to a simmer.

Move pan to oven at 325 degrees for two hours (covered). Check and turn shanks over at least once. Halfway through add a little more water if it’s cooked down too much; you want to make a nice dense brown sauce, not soup. Uncover and bake for or 30 minutes longer until meat is browned and the sauce has thickened.

I always bring the pot to the table just like that, but if that’s too crude, the meat can be removed from the bones and cut in pieces.

Serve with mashed potatoes. I sometimes roast half a large eggplant and mash it with yukon gold potatoes plus quite a bit of sour cream and a little butter, salt and pepper. I boil a few garlic cloves with the potatoes and mash it all together. Celeriac is nice too when it’s mixed with potatoes.

Crusty bread to mop up the gravy is nice. (see no-knead bread recipe)

Share by Eleanor Hartmann