Here, lamb shanks are wrapped in individual foil packets with vegetables, herbs, vermouth, and a sliver of butter and then roasted until luscious and fork-tender. Serve them as is—the vegetables cooked with the meat give you a built-in side dish—or pile them atop creamy polenta or mashed potatoes. Be sure to pour every last flavor-packed drop of cooking liquid onto the meat before serving. Do not omit the orange rind. Even a small piece will make a difference and it is subtle.
by Molly Stevens from Fine Cooking
- 4 medium leeks (white and light-green parts only), halved lengthwise, washed, and cut into 1-1/2-inch lengths
- 4 medium carrots, halved lengthwise and cut into 1-1/2-inch lengths
- 4 (2-1/2-inch) sprigs fresh rosemary
- 4 (2-1/2- to 3-inch) strips orange zest (use a vegetable peeler)
- Crushed red pepper flakes
- Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
- 4 lamb shanks (about 1 lb. each), trimmed
- 1 Tbs. extra-virgin olive oil
- 1/2 cup dry vermouth or dry white wine
- 1-1/2 Tbs. unsalted butter, cut into 4 slices
NOTE: Use two carrots per shank and 1/4 cup vermouth per shank
- Position an oven rack in the lower third of the oven and heat the oven to 300°F.
- Arrange four 16×16-inch squares of heavy-duty aluminum foil on a work surface. Put one-quarter of the leeks, one-quarter of the carrots, 1 rosemary sprig, and 1 strip of orange zest on each square. Season each with a pinch of crushed red pepper flakes, salt, and pepper. Set aside.
- Pat the lamb shanks dry and season generously with salt and pepper. Heat the oil in a large skillet over medium heat until shimmering hot. Working in batches if necessary to avoid crowding, brown the shanks on all sides, about 10 minutes total per batch. Transfer 1 shank to each foil square, arranging it on top of the vegetables. Draw up the edges of the foil to capture any juice, but don’t seal the packets yet.
- Return the skillet to medium heat, add the vermouth, and bring to a simmer, scraping the skillet with a wooden spoon. Remove from the heat. Portion the vermouth evenly among the 4 packets, pouring it over the lamb. Dot each shank with a slice of the butter.
- Fold the foil to form rectangular packets, sealing the seams tightly. Arrange the packets on a baking sheet; it’s fine if they touch but they shouldn’t overlap. Bake for 2-1/2 hours; then check for doneness by carefully opening one of the packets (watch out for the steam) and testing the meat with a fork—it should be tender and pulling away from the bone. If necessary, continue to bake for another 10 minutes and check again.
- Transfer the contents of the packets to large plates or pasta bowls, surrounding the shanks with the vegetables and juice. Remove the rosemary and orange zest before serving, if you like.
NOTE: If using large shanks (about 2 lbs. each), increase cooking time by 20-30 minutes. And ours were close to 2 lbs each so we added 20 minutes.
For our side dish we wanted to use up some baby fingerling potatoes. After slicing them in half, we tossed them in a mixture of olive oil, fresh parsley and oregano, sea salt and pepper, and a dash of pimenton. Next, arrange them on a baking sheet lined with foil and cook at 375 degrees until fork tender, about 20-25 minutes, turning over once to brown both sides.