Lamb Shanks With White Beans and Rosemary
Hearty, Value-Priced and Satisfying
- Servings: 4 to 6.
Lamb shanks are a value-priced cut of meat that need a long braise or stewing to become tender. In this recipe shanks are combined with classic aromatics and fresh herbs and cooked with creamy white cannellini beans. You can use either canned beans that have been rinsed and drained or plan ahead (it can take 24-hours) and soak dried cannellini beans so that they've softened and are ready to add to the recipe. And when browning the shanks, be patient because this step is essential for adding complex flavor.
Serving sizes may depend upon how large the shanks are -- big ones can weigh two pounds each, which with the shank bone can translate to 2 servings per shank. But small ones are perfect as one per person. If you're sharing the shanks it's best to divide the portions after the shanks are cooked because their inner tendons make them nearly impossible to cut when raw.
For more information about buying and cooking lamb shanks, see our article, Lamb Shanks 101.
Serve this dish with couscous or orzo or any favorite grain to help soak up the flavorful gravy, plus a hearty green vegetable like broccolini or kale.
- 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
- 4 to 6 lamb shanks, 1/2 to 2 pounds each
- 2 carrots, sliced into 1/14-inch slices (about 1 1/2 cup)
- 1 onion, chopped (about 1 cup)
- 2 celery stalks, chopped (about 1 cup)
- 2 garlic cloves, finely minced (about 2 tablespoons)
- 1 cup red wine
- 1 1/2 cup chopped canned tomatoes
- 3 15-oz. cans cannellini beans, drained and rinsed
- 2 to 3 cups chicken stock
- 2 sprigs fresh thyme, left whole sprigs
- 2 sprigs fresh rosemary, minced
- 2 bay leaves
- Freshly ground black pepper
- Generously season the lamb shanks with salt and freshly ground black pepper.
- Heat the olive oil in a large skillet over medium high heat. Sear the lamb shanks on all sides until golden brown. This can take 5 or more minutes so be patient. If the pan is not big enough to brown all the shanks at once, do them in batches, adding a little more olive oil if necessary between batches.
- Transfer the shanks to a large Dutch over or other heavy stovetop and ovenproof casserole that has a cover.
- Pour off most of the oil and any fat that's in the skillet after browning all the shanks, leaving about 1 tablespoon behind.
- Pre-heat the oven to 350° F.
- In the same skillet, add the onion, carrots and celery and cook until softened but not browned, about 5 minutes.
- Add the garlic and cook until it's fragrant, about 45 seconds.
- Add the red wine to deglaze the pan, using a wooden spoon or spatula to scrape off all the brown bits on the bottom of the pan. Cook until the wine has reduced by about half, about 2 to 3 minutes.
- Pour the cooked vegetables and wine over the lamb shanks in the Dutch oven. Add the thyme, rosemary and bay leaves and the chopped tomatoes with their juice.
- Add the cannellini beans.
- Add enough stock to just reach the top of the lamb and other ingredients but not completely submerge; let the tops of the shanks show a bit above the liquid.
- On the top of the stove, bring the pot to a robust simmer.
- Cover and transfer to the oven. Cook until the meat begins to fall off the bone, about 2 hours. Once or twice check the pot and give it a gentle stir so that the entire shanks get cooked.
- Once the meat seems to be completely tender, remove the cover, raise the oven temperature to 375° F, and return to the oven for a final 30 minutes. This will help the liquid to reduce a bit and the beans will absorb more liquid.
- Serve immediately or keep warm in a 200° F oven or on a very low flame on the top of the stove if you plan to to serve it within an hour or so. It also can be completely cooled and refrigerated, and reheated the next day.