Port & Wine Braised Lamb Shank

Braising takes a typically tough cut of meat and makes it fall off the bone tender.  This richly flavored and wine infused lamb dish is perfect for the Spring holidays and Sunday dinners.  And all it takes are some everyday ingredients, some choice port and wine… and time.

Shanks are known for both their great flavor and their notorious toughness.  It is not a meat you can usually just cook by any quick means.  This cut takes a lot of time and a lot of love.  That is why braising is such a perfect technique for this dish.  Braising uses the steady, even heat of the liquid to render the joints and tenderize the meat, resulting in fork-tender texture and hearty, rich flavor.

The basics of this dish really couldn’t be simpler:

  • A heavy bottomed pot or Dutch oven
  • Root vegetable mirepoix (I like to use celery root in my braises.  It has an extra earthy flavor that works well in long stews)
  • All purpose flour to thicken the liquid and give us a hearty sauce
  • Rich stock and wine.  In this recipe I used an awesome 10 year tawny port by Graham’s and a very niche petite sirah from Maggio Family Vineyard
  • Fire roasted tomatoes for their acid, sweetness, and smokey flavor
  • An herbal bounty featuring thyme, rosemary, sage, and bay leaf
  • Some unsalted butter for finishing the sauce

What’s also great is that aside from some basic chopping, there aren’t a ton of kitchen skills needed to produce this outstanding comfort food dinner.  Shanks don’t generally need to be trimmed or cleaned, and there are no ornate cuts for presentation.  All we want is to extract that awesome flavor.

What it does take is patience.  This isn’t a dish that is going to be knocked out at the last minute.  Plan on a good three hours of prep and cooking.  But the compensation is that the cooking mostly takes care of itself.  You sear the shanks, sink them into the braising liquid, then walk away (sort of… you always need to pay some attention to cooking food!)

And the results can’t be argued with.  Only dished up and enjoyed!

Check out the video below to see just how easy it is to make this family-pleasing dish.