I made this recipe for the first time when entertaining guests over at my house. It always makes my husband nervous when I try a new recipe on guests…What if it’s not perfect? Honestly (knock on wood here), it’s always when I do that that I feel that I am creating my best recipes! Perhaps it’s the « pressure » of not having the possibility to fail? (Well, there are always tons of pizza places eager to deliver if ever that happens…). Or is it the fact that I am being extra attentive to every single detail? Whatever it is, I can tell you that all my guests ate everything on their plate and absolutely loved it! The meat literally falls off the bones, you don’t even really need a knife, it’s that tender. I would even advise you to be extra careful when you pick up the shanks to put it into your plates as it tends to almost disintegrate. I used thongs and a spatula to delicately transpose it into plates to make a nice presentation.
Wouldn’t this be PERFECT as a Valentine’s Day dinner? If that’s your plan, you can modify the recipe to serve only 2 people, just buy only 2 pieces of lamb shanks and cut all the ingredients in half.
So obviously, I made it a few other times after, just to make sure that all is truly perfect. I am now ready to share it with you and you have my word that if you follow every step, you’ll have tender, juicy, melt-in-your-mouth lamb shanks, fragrant with tons of beautiful fresh herbs.
I served the lamb shanks on my Mashed Cauliflower, but you can also serve it on any other mashed veggie side that you like! I am thinking that it would be especially delicious on a parsnip-carrot mash for example…. As a small, second side, I also added some caramelized grape tomatoes for the taste of course, but also for the splash of colour and freshness it gives to the whole dish. The first time I served it though, I had added some stir-fried mushrooms instead and it was delicious too… so take your pick and either choices will be perfect, I promise.
- - 2 tsp sweet paprika
- - 1tsp each freshly ground black pepper and salt
- - 6 lamb shanks (from front legs - ask your butcher to prepare them for you)
- - Extra-virgin olive oil, as needed
- - large onion (any kind but I used yellow, since it's all I had on hand), chopped
- - 4 garlic cloves thinly chopped
- - 2 teaspoons coriander seeds, cracked to rough bits
- - 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
- - 1 ½ cups full bodied red wine
- - whole bunch scallions, finely chopped
- - 2 cups chopped fresh arugula
- - 2 cups chopped fresh cilantro
- - 1 cup chopped fresh parsley
- - 1 cup chopped fresh mint
- - 1/2 cup chopped fresh tarragon
- - 1/4 cup beef stock (or lamb stock if you can find some, but totally optional)
- In a large bowl, toss together scallions, arugula, and all the herbs. Set aside.
- In a covered with a lid large enough to hold all the lamb shanks, sprinkle them all with the paprika, salt and pepper. Make sure all the lamb shanks are covered with the spices, cover and refrigerate for 24 hours.
- Heat oven to 250F. In a large skillet over medium-high heat, add a bit of olive oil and sear the lamb on every side. Work in batches (2 at a time) and add more oil as needed. Transfer the lamb shanks to a roasting pan.
- In the same skillet (with all the lamb drippings), lower the heat to medium and and cook the onion until translucent. Add garlic, coriander seeds and cayenne pepper and cook an additional 2-3 minutes.
- Deglaze with the wine and bring to a simmer until the liquid has reduced by a third approximately (it should have thickened a bit). Pour all the liquid over lamb.
- Cover the lamb shanks with about 2/3 of the herbs. Cover pan TIGHTLY (This is very important, as it will directly impact if your lamb is dry or not: if sealed tightly, it will be juicy).
- Bake 4-5 hours, turning the shanks every 1 1/2 hour or so (if possible, if not, it will still be good don't worry), but make sure to cover the pan tightly every time, so that no steam escapes it.
- When shanks are cooked through and tender, take out of the oven. I like to serve the shanks in large shallow bowls, with cauliflower mash on the bottom and the lamb shank displayed on top. Pour a few tablespoons of the sauce from the cooking pan over the lamb and garnish with chopped herbs. Serve immediately, with or without a side.
- You can serve the lamb with caramelized grape tomatoes or stir fried mushrooms, but you don't have to, as it is a fairly hearty meal in itself.