Gift Yourself

Here’s one for your Top Ten most impressive, braised, company-worthy dishes—but you’d rather keep to yourself. We’d been salivating over the Slow-Cooked Lamb Shanks in Pinot Noir recipe ever since Russ came across it on, of all places, by John Shook and Vinny Dotolo.

It was several weeks before we got around to making it, but we did think ahead and put in an order for 4 lamb shanks with the butcher a week prior to braise day. And we were thrilled with the gorgeous shanks, each weighing about 1-pound and trimmed of excess fat.


It’s a good idea to prep everything before you start cooking.

While it’s not too complicated to prep, it is a time-intensive process because of the 3-hour braise. Whenever one of the kids is in town for a visit, we try to provide a culinary teaching moment, and this time son David was the lucky recipient of making riced garlic mashed potatoes as one of our sides.

IMG_3213David rices the potatoes while Dad tends to the sauce reduction.

Do not skimp or omit any of the ingredients because all together they lend a wonderful depth of flavor that is brightened by the lemon. And the lamb, when done, is so fork tender the meat just falls off the bones. We paired ours with the mashed potatoes which made perfect vehicles for nesting more sauce.


Directions indicate that the carrots are optional, but they absorbed all of the flavors and were perfect mouthfuls of yummy goodness, so I say, make sure to include them. And simple steamed asparagus rounded out the meal.

Unfortunately, except for a few potatoes, there were no leftovers. And I’m pretty sure, if we had cooked more shanks, David would have consumed a third! Our weather here in the Northeast is still pretty cold and windy, making a perfect backdrop for a long, slow braise. Don’t miss the opportunity to gift yourself and stretch your culinary know-how…

Slow-Cooked Lamb Shanks in Pinot Noir

  • Servings: 4
  • Difficulty: moderately easy
  • Print


  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 4 lamb shanks, 3/4 to 1 pound each
  • 3 teaspoons kosher salt
  • 1 28-ounce can whole tomatoes with liquid
  • 1 yellow onion, finely chopped
  • 1 fennel bulb, fronds and stalks removed, halved, cored and thinly sliced
  • 2 carrots, peeled and chopped into 1 1/2 inch lengths (optional)
  • 4 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
  • 1 lemon, halved
  • 1 1/2 cups pinot noir
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons finely grated peeled fresh ginger
  • 2 cinnamon sticks
  • 1 teaspoon whole coriander seeds
  • 1 teaspoon fennel seeds
  • 3 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 12 fresh mint leaves


  1. Preheat oven to 300 degrees F.
  2. Heat the olive oil in a Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Sprinkle the lamb with 2 teaspoons of the salt and brown in the hot oil on all sides.
  3. Remove the lamb to a plate and pour off any excess fat from the pan.
  4. Pour the tomatoes into a large bowl and, using your hands, shred them into small pieces. Set aside.
  5. Add the onions, fennel, carrots (if using), garlic, and the remaining 1 teaspoon of salt to the pot. Cook, stirring and scraping any browned bits off the bottom of the pot, until the garlic is lightly toasted, 3 to 4 minutes.
  6. Squeeze in the lemon juice from each half and toss the lemon rinds into the pot. Stir in the wine, tomatoes and ginger, scraping any browned bits up from the bottom of the pot, and bring to a simmer; cook for about 3 minutes.
  7. Stir in the cinnamon, coriander, fennel seeds and ¾ cup water, then add the lamb to the pot. Cover and bake in the oven until the lamb is fork-tender and falls easily off the bone, about 3 hours.
  8. Arrange the lamb shanks on a platter. Stir the butter into the pan juices and, once melted, add the mint. Pour the sauce over the lamb, discard the cinnamon sticks, and serve.

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