Braised lamb shanks

Preparation info

  • Difficulty


  • Feeds

    four to six

Appears in

Old Food

Old Food

By Jill Dupleix

Published 1998

  • About

Traditionally poor people’s food, this is the new luxury - food cooked with no rushing, no pressure, and no worries. And the leftovers make a sensational sugo for pasta for tomorrow night. If there are any leftovers.


  • 2 carrots
  • 2 parsnips
  • 2 onions
  • 2 leeks
  • 3 tbsp olive oil
  • 6 lamb shanks
  • 2 celery stalks, finely chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves, crushed
  • 200 ml (7 fl oz) white wine
  • 400 g (14 oz) canned tomatoes
  • 10 sprigs of fresh thyme
  • 4 sprigs of parsley
  • 4 sprigs of rosemary
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 200 to 400 ml (7 to 14 fl oz) water or broth
  • sea salt and freshly ground black pepper


Peel carrots, parsnips and onions and finely chop. Chop leeks in half lengthwise, and cut into 5 cm (2 in) lengths.

Heat olive oil in a heavy-bottomed lidded casserole that will take direct heat, and brown lamb shanks really well (until dark brown) on top of the stove. Remove shanks, add carrot, parsnip, onion, leeks, celery and garlic, and cook for 10 minutes until they start to soften. Add white wine and scrape up any residue attached to bottom of pan. Return shanks to pan, packing them in tightly.

Add tomatoes, thyme, parsley, rosemary, bay leaf, and water or broth. Bring to the boil, then reduce heat to a very gentle simmer, cover, and cook for 2 hours, skimming occasionally. Add extra liquid if need be, but the Idea of braising is for the meat to be cooked in its own juices.

Remove shanks from pot and keep hot. Strain the sauce through a fine sieve into a clean pan, pressing down to extract all liquid. Boil sauce, stirring, until reduced to a thickened sauce. Taste for salt and pepper and adjust accordingly.

Serve one shank per normal person and pour the sauce on top, or remove meat from the bones and return it to the sauce before serving. Serve on a bed of parsley mash (Potatoes) or creamy polenta.