Braised Lamb Shanks

Lamb Shanks Stuff
Lamb Shanks & Stuff

Maybe, just maybe, the most satisfying dish I’ve ever made. As someone who cooks a great deal — for other people being a huge part of that — I am often confronted with a serious question: was it worth it? Often times, in spite of the tastiness of a dish, it’s hard to answer that in the affirmative. Although, I’d never give it up. It’s a weird — and enjoyable — "conflict."

This time, however, everything was on my side. I’ve never done braised lamb shanks — or any animal shanks in any way whatsoever, in spite of it being a restaurant favorite of mine —  and this was on my mind for a couple of days. Knew we were having guests and that’s what I set my mind to. The fore-thinking is, to me, the best part of the whole deal. Anticipation is a great value. Think grand, envision it with patience, then accomplish it, and  finally, relish and even wallow, in your own pride. Don’t worry: if you’re made of the right stuff and didn’t get it right, you won’t be proud. See, your own selfish pride is really the end goal. Is for me, anyway.

Alright, the menu: braised lamb shanks, cauliflower puree, and a Greekish salad (i.e., feta).

Lamb Shanks more Stuff
Lamb Shanks & More Stuff

So, I looked at a whole bunch of recipes and ended up setting on the top Google ht for its utter simplicity. Lamb is a strongly flavored meat. If cooked slowly and it’s quality lamb, why go out of your way to hide its natural flavor.

So, I chose this one and, I. am. so. glad. I. did. I’ll likely play with it in the future, but there’s no need messing with this. In looking at numerous other recipes, I was persuaded to do two things differently, one being in terms of ingredients and the other, method. I added one and a half sticks of cinnamon to the braise. Instead of braising stovetop, I did it n the oven at 325. The first hour and 1/2, I had the roasting pot covered with foil, then another hour & 1/2 uncovered, and you turn the shanks every 30 minutes. You want to have them 1/3 to 1/2 exposed so they caramelize. Then, you turn that into the braise.

So, for the final hour, take it out, remove the shanks to a platter and set in the oven, which you’ve now turned off. Put the braise in a pot on medium to high heat & reduce. Mash up the carrots & onion a bit, which will aid in thickening.

You’re done. The puree is a standard cauliflower puree, with a heated melange (see above) of butter, cream, and a tub of crumbled goat cheese. The mustiness of the goat cheese in the puree went perfectly with pungent taste of the lamb.

the plate
The Plate

The salad Julie put together, featuring both feta & dill, was as tasty as it was a work of art.

Greekish Salad
Greekish Salad

All in all, a wonderful Saturday dinner, punctuated, for me, by a good 9 hr sleep.

Richard Nikoley

I'm Richard Nikoley. Free The Animal began in 2003 and as of 2021, contains 5,000 posts. I blog what I wish...from health, diet, and food to travel and lifestyle; to politics, social antagonism, expat-living location and time independent—while you sleep—income. I celebrate the audacity and hubris to live by your own exclusive authority and take your own chances. Read More


  1. Aaron Blaisdell on August 23, 2009 at 21:09

    DROOOOOOL! I am going to HAVE to give that a try! It's been a restaurant fave of mine for years, too.

  2. Mamatha on August 23, 2009 at 23:41

    That is one of best-looking salads I've seen. Totally drool-worthy pictures.

  3. Geerbuckzzz on August 24, 2009 at 00:43

    that made me hungry again… nice!

  4. ZentoFitness on August 24, 2009 at 01:35

    Quite simply one of the best looking Paleo meals I have ever seen. Cauliflower mash looks awesome as does the greek salad. I love how you added the big chili's and dill its those little touches that turn an average meal into an awesome one. Plus reminds me to go pickup some fresh herbs….Thanks for all the great inspiration with the cooking!

  5. MuleFace on August 24, 2009 at 13:18

    Dang, you just described a near perfect evening – especially that puncuation.

  6. Mike Gruber on August 24, 2009 at 14:46

    Gotta try that one.

  7. johncampbell on August 24, 2009 at 16:19

    I have said it once and I will say it again – you should have your own cooking show. I was raised on roast lamb for Sunday dinner – I cannot get enough. That meal looks awesome – I think I can even smell it if I close my eyes.

    And if you ever open a restaurant, I'm there. Richard, keep feeding us with these pictures and recipes – great stuff!

    • Richard Nikoley on August 24, 2009 at 16:50

      Well, I will never cook lamb again without cinnamon, I'll tell you that.

      • johncampbell on August 24, 2009 at 17:08

        Cinnamon – another favorite of mine – thanks for the heads up!

  8. Leftovers Done Right | Free The Animal on August 27, 2009 at 15:01

    […] thought I'd put this up, since all my plated photos from the original were blurry. Here's the second tour of my Braised Lamb Shanks (click on photo to […]

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