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The Butcher

Lamb Shanks Offer Good Meat for Flavored Dishes

February 14, 1985|MERLE ELLIS

Lamb shanks are among the least expensive cuts of lamb you are apt to find in any market. Only the breast of lamb is likely to sell for less. Yet the shanks often are overlooked. They're awkward-looking things, with what appears to be a big hunk of bone and not much meat.

Lamb shanks are the front legs of the animal, and, in spite of looking to be all bone, are rather meaty. At least two-thirds of the weight of a properly trimmed lamb shank is good, lean, richly flavored (thanks to the bone) lamb meat that may be used in any number of marvelous lamb dishes.

Shanks make for hearty meals served whole (allow one pound shank per person), or they may be cooked ahead with the meat removed from the bone, frozen in some of the cooking liquid and used later for lamb curries, stews and casseroles of all kinds. The meat is more flavorful for having been cooked with the bones and it gains richness of flavor for the time spent in the freezer.


4 lamb shanks

2 tablespoons butter

2 cloves garlic, minced

1 medium onion, sliced

2/3 cup dry white wine

2/3 cup beef stock

1 teaspoon salt

1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

1/4 teaspoon ground thyme

2 bay leaves

2 teaspoons arrowroot

2 tablespoons water

Boiled potatoes and carrots

Brown lamb shanks in butter in heavy skillet over medium-high heat, turning often until evenly browned on all sides. Remove shanks and set aside. Reduce heat to medium, add garlic and onion and cook, stirring occasionally, until onion is golden, about 3 minutes.

Add wine and simmer 10 minutes. Add beef stock, salt, pepper, thyme and bay leaves. Return shanks to pan, cover and simmer 1 1/2 hours until meat is tender. Remove shanks to platter. Dissolve arrowroot in water and stir into liquid in pan. Pour over shanks. Serve with plain boiled potatoes and carrots, if desired. Makes 4 servings.

Variation: Eliminate arrowroot. Allow shanks to cool, then remove meat from bones. Place meat in freezer container and cover with cooking liquid. Cover with tight-fitting lid and freeze for later use.


4 lamb shanks

1/2 cup brandy

1/2 cup soy sauce

1/2 cup honey

2 tablespoons oil

2 tablespoons butter

1 large onion, thickly sliced

Marinate lamb shanks overnight in mixture of brandy, soy sauce and honey. Remove shanks from marinade, reserving marinade. Brown shanks in hot oil in heavy skillet, turning often to brown evenly on all sides. Remove from skillet and set aside. Pour off oil. Add butter to skillet. Add onion and cook over low heat until golden. Return shanks to pan and pour in reserved marinade. Cover and simmer over medium-low heat 1 1/2 hours until tender. Makes 4 servings.


4 lamb shanks

2 tablespoons butter

2 cups orange juice

1/4 cup lemon juice

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon black pepper

Peel of 1 orange cut in julienne strips

1 tablespoon cornstarch

2 tablespoons water

Additional orange peel strips

Mint sprig

Brown lamb shanks in butter in heavy skillet over medium-high heat, turning often until browned evenly on all sides. Transfer to casserole. Add orange juice, lemon juice, salt, pepper and orange peel. Cover and bake at 325 degrees 2 hours. Remove shanks to heated platter and keep warm. Dissolve cornstarch in water. Stir into pan juices and cook over low heat, stirring constantly, until thickened. Pour sauce over shanks on serving platter and garnish with additional orange peel and mint, if desired. Makes 4 servings.

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