Red Wine Braised Lamb Shanks with Butternut Squash
This post was created in partnership with American Lamb Board.
In this recipe American lamb shanks are braised in a red wine based broth until they can be easily shredded with a fork. Cinnamon sticks and thyme in the braised dish add a warm aroma while sliced onions add a sweet flavor and when braised have a jam-like consistency. Carrots, celery and chunks of butternut squash accompany the lamb.
I love the look of lamb shanks on the plate. The impressive display is similar to beef short ribs with the bone intact. The meat becomes so tender from the braising process that it falls cleanly off the bone. Lamb shanks come from the lower part of the animal’s legs. The meat is tougher because it is full of connective tissue and the legs are worked all day, every day. Tougher cuts of meat like this are best for braising because the longer cooking time at lower temperatures allows for that connective tissue to break down and give way to flavorful, succulent meat. I love a good braise because you really can’t mess it up. As long as you sear the meat first, then add it to a tightly covered oven-safe pot, combine it with aromatics and liquid and cook it for a long time at a low temperature, you don’t run the risk of overcooking as you would using other methods.
I opt for domestically raised American lamb. Why? It should be common sense; lamb raised closer to where you are based will be fresher. It doesn’t take time in between to be frozen then shipped fromall over. Look for American lamb on the label or ask your butcher if the lamb is American raised. The majority of American lamb is pasture raised and tends to be less gamey than other lamb.
4 to 5 American lamb shanks, about 3 pounds
Kosher salt, as needed
Freshly ground black pepper, as needed
3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
3 carrots, peeled and chopped
2 stalks celery, chopped
2 medium yellow onions, sliced
1 medium butternut squash, peeled, seeded and diced into 1” cubes
1 cup red wine
3 cups beef stock
1 cinnamon stick
1 bay leaf
2 sprigs thyme
Heat oven to 325ºF. Season the lamb shanks all over with salt and pepper.
Heat a large Dutch oven over medium heat then add the olive oil and heat through. Add the lamb shanks and brown on all sides, about 4 minutes per side. Remove to a plate and set aside.
Return the Dutch oven to heat and add the carrots, celery, onion and squash, sautéing until the onions are soft, about 5 minutes.
Add the wine and bring to a boil. Add the beef stock, cinnamon stick, bay leaf and thyme. Return the lamb shanks to the pot and bring the mixture to a simmer then cover tightly and transfer to the oven. Braise the lamb shanks, turning once, until fork tender, about 2 hours. Discard the cinnamon, bay leaf and thyme sprigs.
Divide the lamb shanks between serving bowls and ladle vegetables and braising liquid over the top. Serve hot with mashed potatoes.
This post was created in partnership with American Lamb Board – all opinions expressed are my own.
Be sure to enter the American Lamb Board Sunday Funday Giveaway!! Prizes include a lamb sampler and one of the following: $500 gift card to Magnolia, $500 gift card to Yeti or $500 gift card to Sur la Table!