It's starting to cool down all along the east coast, allowing many of us to breathe a huge sigh of relief from the  hot, sticky and muggy days in August. This cooler weather also means a resumption of slow-cooked foods, savory dishes that require hours upon hours of heat that was ironically prohibited by the roasting temperatures outside. This past week I made a hearty beef stew, a comforting chicken soup, and simmered a huge pork roast into sublime oblivion. And I'm just getting started!

To celebrate the commencement of colder weather, I am sharing a recipe for braised lamb shanks, a dish that exemplifies slow-cooking at its best. Meats roasted on low heat for three hours until the muscles and connected tissues soften and simply melt off the bone. This recipe calls for the use of juniper berries, which is a common seasoning found in Australian lamb recipes. Juniper berries have a bold, herbaceous quality reminiscent of pine needles that augments the hearty nature of this dish. If you can't find juniper berries, substitute with rosemary.


(adapted from Kevin D. Weeks)
  • 2 lamb shanks, trimmed
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2-3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 medium onions, roughly diced
  • 3 carrots, sliced into 1-inch thick chunks
  • 1 celery stalk, sliced thinly
  • 2 teaspoons dried thyme
  • 1 teaspoon dried basil
  • 1 tablespoon dried juniper berries -smashed
  • 2 tablespoons tomato paste
  • 2 cups medium to full-bodied red wine
  • 2 cups beef stock
  • sea salt and pepper

  1. Salt and pepper the lamb shanks generously.  In a large dutch oven, preferably cast iron, heat two tablespoons olive oil. Brown the lamb shanks. Transfer to a plate once done.

  2. Add the minced garlic and saute until lightly golden, before adding onions, carrots and celery. Continue sauteing until the vegetables become tender. Stir-in the thyme, basil and smashed juniper berries. Continue sauteing for another minute. Incorporate the tomato paste. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Stir in two cups of red wine to help deglaze the pan, and simmer uncovered until the liquid is reduced by half.  Taste. Salt again, if necessary.
  3. Once the liquids are reduced by half, add two cups of beef stock and return the browned lamb shanks to the pot. Cover with a lid and transfer the pot to the center of the oven, where it will roast for 3 hours at 325 F.  

Serve with polenta or potatoes.

Serves 2


Chow and Chatter said...

oh i want mine with polenta please!

Anonymous said...

OK Lamb is my fav and this is my new fav dish! I am so there or you are so here! P.S. check your facebook! Love susannah :)

Marc @ NoRecipes said...

Mmmmm I love braised shanks. I've been resisting waiting for cooler temps, but I think I'll be braising something this weekend.

Anonymous said...

I love braised dishes. Unfortunately it's not quite winter yet (not that I'm complaining or anything).