For this lamb shanks recipe, Cook’s Illustrated preferred to braise them in the oven rather than on the stovetop, as the oven provided more even heat. Browning the shanks over high heat in a skillet first added a great deal of flavor to the dish. The shanks are braised in chicken stock (which complements, rather than overpowers, the lamb, as beef or veal stock might have), white wine, and herbs.
We made numerous changes to this recipe, starting with the lamb shanks. Instead of six small (which equates to more bone and less meat), we braised two meaty shanks that weighed close to two pounds each. When it is time to brown the shanks, you may have to do it in two batches if cooking more than two of them.
*As for the white beans, we did soak ours overnight as per the instructions below, but you could use 2 cans of cannellinis, drained and rinsed to save time. Instead of using several different skillets and pans, we did everything in one large braising pot. Finally, although we didn’t do it this time, we highly suggest that you reduce the liquids from 3 cups of broth to 2, and 2 cups of white wine down to 1 cup. These changes are note in the recipe below.
Braised Lamb Shanks with White Beans, Swiss Chard and Marjoram
1 bunch Swiss chard, cleaned, stemmed, and chopped coarsely
Ground black pepper
FOR BEANS: Bring dried beans, bay leaf, garlic, and water to simmer in large saucepan. Simmer, partially covered, until beans are just tender, 30 to 40 minutes.
Remove from heat, stir in salt, cover, and let beans stand until completely tender, about 15 minutes. Drain, reserve cooking liquid, and discard bay leaf and garlic. (Beans in liquid can be cooled, covered, and refrigerated up to 5 days.)
FOR SHANKS: Heat oven to 350 degrees. Sprinkle shanks with salt. Heat oil in a large, nonreactive sauté pan over medium-high heat. Add shanks to pan in batches if necessary to avoid overcrowding. Sauté until browned on all sides, 5-7 minutes. Using tongs, transfer shanks to a plate as they brown.
Drain all but 2 tablespoons fat from the sauté pan; add onions, carrots, celery, garlic, tomato paste, a light sprinkling of salt and 2 teaspoons of the fresh marjoram (less if using dried); sauté to soften vegetables slightly, 3 to 4 minutes.
Add wine, then chicken stock to the skillet, stirring with a wooden spoons to loosen browned bits from skillet bottom. Bring liquid to simmer; transfer vegetables and liquid into a deep braising pan, large enough to hold the shanks in a single layer. Add shanks and season with salt and pepper.
Cover pan (with foil if pan has no lid) and transfer it to the oven; braise shanks for 1 1/2 hours. Uncover and continue braising until shank tops are browned, about 30 minutes. Turn shanks and continue braising until remaining side has browned and shanks are fall-off-the-bone tender, about another 20 minutes.
Remove pan from oven; let shanks rest for at least 15 minutes. Carefully transfer shanks with tongs to each plate.
Arrange a portion of vegetables around each shank. Skim excess fat from braising liquid. Add beans and chard and remaining 1 teaspoon marjoram; cook over medium heat until greens wilt, about 5 minutes. Adjust seasoning. Spoon a portion of braising liquid over each shank and serve.
Youvetsi is a popular and comforting Greek stew made with tender bits of lamb or beef and cooked with small noodles such as orzo. Red meat is the more typical choice, however you may also make it with chicken.
For this easy, modern riff from The Mediterranean Dish, they instruct to use a large, heavy ceramic braising dish with a lid. In it, the tender pieces of lamb (or beef) and orzo will cook together in an aromatic tomato sauce with garlic, oregano, and other comforting Greek flavors.
Keep in mind, this is not a quick weeknight meal. This Greek lamb stew is best enjoyed straight from the pan, when the orzo is perfectly cooked. However, any leftovers can be stored in the fridge for up to 3 days. And once you taste it, you’ll hope to have leftovers to reheat during the week. The recipe can easily be cut in half if you are so inclined.
2 lbs. lamb shoulder (boneless, or lamb leg, trimmed of fat and cut into small 1-inch chunks)
Kosher salt and black pepper
Extra virgin olive oil
4 large onions, finely chopped
8 garlic cloves, minced
2 cup dry red wine (and a glass for yourself 😉
2 tsp. dry oregano
2 tsp. paprika
1 tsp. ground cinnamon
1 tsp. nutmeg
2 bay leaf
2, 28 oz. cans whole San Marzano tomatoes
1 cup orzo pasta
2 cup fresh parsley, chopped
Feta cheese for garnish, optional
Pat the lamb dry and season with kosher salt and black pepper.
In a large, ceramic braising pan or heavy pan with a lid, heat 3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil over medium-high heat until shimmering but not smoking. Add the lamb and cook for 7 to 10 minutes, tossing regularly, until browned. Transfer the lamb to a large plate for now.
In the same pan, add the onions and garlic. Season with kosher salt. Cook for 3 to 5 minutes, stirring regularly, until softened.
Return the lamb to the pan. Add the red wine, oregano, paprika, cinnamon, nutmeg and bay leaf. Cook until the wine has reduced by at least ½, then add 1 cup of water and the tomatoes. Break the tomatoes up using a wooden spoon. Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat to low. Cover and let simmer for 45 minutes to 1 hour, or until the lamb is cooked through.
Stir in the orzo and cover the pan. Let cook for another 20 minutes or until the orzo has cooked through and most of the moister has been absorbed. Move off the heat and let sit another 5-10 minutes so that the orzo absorbs more moisture.
Garnish with parsley and crumbled feta, if you like, before serving.
Did you know that plain yogurt is an excellent base for a marinade? It slowly tenderizes the meat, rendering it juicy, but never meaty or tough; plus it leaves a pleasant tangy flavor behind. In this case, a simple blend of yogurt, shallot, lemon and salt is a perfect match for lamb’s richness.
A portion of the mixture is set aside to purée with tender green herbs and lemon juice for a quick finishing sauce after the lamb is done. The original recipe called for baby lamb chops (aka lollipop chops), but we prefer a meatier cut such as the loin chop, and the ingredients list reflects our changes.
The yogurt sauce mixture not only complimented the meat but benefited the sliced cucumbers as well. Another side was whole wheat pearl couscous cooked in homemade chicken stock for added flavor.
Herby Yogurt Sauce with Grilled Lamb Chops and Cucumber Couscous Salad
1 tsp. grated lemon zest, plus 1 Tbsp. lemon juice, all from 1 lemon
8 loin lamb chops
1 cup packed fresh tender herbs (such as parsley, dill and mint leaves), plus more for serving
1 cup pearl whole wheat couscous, cooked according to package directions
1 cucumber, sliced thin for serving
Stir together yogurt, shallot, salt, and lemon zest in a medium bowl. Measure 1 cup of the mixture into a large ziploc bag. Cover and refrigerate the remaining 1/2 cup yogurt mixture.
Add lamb chops to ziploc bag; seal bag and turn to coat lamb in sauce. Let marinate in the fridge at least 2 hours, and up to 24. Ours marinated 8 hours.
Preheat grill to high (450°-500°). Scrape off excess marinate from lamb, then discard the bag .
Sprinkle chops evenly with salt and pepper. Arrange chops on oiled grill grates. Grill covered, turning once or twice until browned and a thermometer inserted in the thickest part of the meat registers 135° for medium-rare; about 10 minutes total; lollipop chops will take about 5 minutes.
Transfer chops to a platter and let rest for 5 minutes.
Meanwhile, transfer reserved yogurt mixture to a food processor. Add fresh herbs and lemon juice; pulse until smooth, about 20 pulses.
Serve lamb alongside sauce, cooked couscous, cucumbers and additional herbs.
The aroma of fresh mint and spices permeates this bright, turmeric-painted pulao made with basmati rice and ground lamb. This recipe, which has origins in the ground meat pulaos of India, is quite flexible and open to additions: a handful of fresh dill, a generous sprinkling of fried peanuts or other nuts, or crispy, fried onions tossed in just before serving.
It also works well if you substitute beef for the lamb, and really needs no sides, except maybe some raita, creamy plain yogurt or a salad. And we did just that, a simple side salad completed our meal.
We had plenty leftover with only the two of us for dinner. The extras were refrigerated and a day later reheated and enjoyed for lunch.
1 tsp. ghee, unsalted butter or extra-virgin olive oil
4 garlic cloves, peeled and grated
2 Tbsp. grated fresh ginger
1 ½ tsp. garam masala
½ tsp. red chile powder
½ tsp. black pepper
2 tsp. kosher salt
3 Tbsp. lime juice
½ tsp. ground turmeric
1 bunch scallions (about 6), trimmed and thinly sliced
¼ cup loosely packed fresh mint leaves
Check the rice and discard any debris. Place the rice in a fine-mesh sieve and rinse under running water until the water runs clear. Place the rice in a bowl, cover with water by 1 inch, and soak for 30 minutes.
As the rice soaks, cook the lamb: Place a medium saucepan with a heavy lid or a Dutch oven over medium heat. When the saucepan is hot, break the lamb into chunks, and cook until the fat renders, about 2 minutes. Drain most of the fat, leaving behind 1 to 2 tablespoons, and continue to cook the lamb until it browns, another 2 minutes.
Add the ghee and heat over medium until it melts, 30 to 45 seconds. Add the garlic and ginger and sauté for 1 minute.
Add the garam masala, chile powder, black pepper and 1 teaspoon salt and sauté until the spices are fragrant, 1 minute. Add 1 tablespoon lime juice and stir until the flavors come together, about 1 minute.
Transfer the lamb mixture to a large bowl and keep warm. (To do so, you could transfer it to a 250-degree oven.) Clean the saucepan and wipe dry.
Drain the soaked rice. Add to the same saucepan and cover with water by 1 inch. Stir in 1 tablespoon lime juice, the turmeric and the remaining 1 teaspoon salt. Bring to a boil over medium heat, then cover, and reduce heat to simmer until the rice absorbs all the water, about 10 minutes. (Do not stir the rice as it cooks, or the grains might break.) Remove the saucepan from heat, and let sit, uncovered, for 5 minutes.
Stir the rice into the cooked lamb mixture, then drizzle with the remaining 1 tablespoon lime juice. Fold the scallions and mint into the rice, and serve immediately.
So elegant, yet so simple, this roasted leg of lamb is truly company-worthy. It originally calls for a 4-pound roast, but we had a 2 1⁄2 pounder on hand, so we used that—though we did not cut back on the anchovy-garlic-herbs mixture which lends it so much umami goodness. Even if you are not an anchovy fan, you’d never know they were in the dish because their flavor just melds so perfectly with the other ingredients. DON’T leave them out.
And the icing on the cake so to speak? The bacon slices overlap each other across the top of the roast which create a beautiful crusty and golden exterior. And because our lamb was smaller in size, it took less strips of bacon to cover it.
Paired with baked sweet potatoes and roasted Brussels sprouts, all of which cook at the same 425°F temperature as the lamb—just different lengths of time—everything can be done in just one oven at the same time. Dinner done!
Heat oven to 425 degrees. Place anchovy fillets, garlic and herbs in food processor, and process until finely chopped. With machine running, add olive oil in a thin stream, and process until mixture forms an oily paste. Transfer paste to a small bowl and set aside.
Dry the lamb well with paper towels and open flat on work surface. Sprinkle inside of lamb with salt and pepper and spread paste evenly over it. Roll lamb up tightly. Arrange bacon in overlapping slices on top of lamb, and tie roast as snugly as possible with butcher’s twine.
Heat an oven-proof, 10-12 inch wide skillet over high heat 5 minutes. Sear lamb, bacon side down, until brown, about 4 minutes. Turn lamb with tongs and continue searing until all sides are browned, about 12 minutes total.
Transfer skillet to oven and roast until lamb registers 130 degrees on instant-read meat thermometer, about 40 to 45 minutes. Remove lamb from oven and let rest, covered loosely with foil, at least 10 minutes before slicing.
It is rare that Flint, Michigan—my home town until I went away to college—is mentioned in a positive light, so this recipe caught my attention. Here, Milk Street FB Community member Jennifer Wozniak of Flint, drizzles tahini onto lamb burgers that she spices up with sumac, cumin and red pepper flakes. Then the burgers are served topped with feta cheese and sandwiched in brioche buns.
Milk Street took it a step further and played up the Middle Eastern flavor profile by spiking the tahini with Greek yogurt, lemon juice and more sumac, then spreads the mixture like mayonnaise on each bun half. We like to top the burgers with lettuce, tomato and possibly thinly sliced red onion.
Words to the wise, don’t buy crumbled feta cheese. Look for it sold in a block so it can be sliced into slabs for layering onto the burgers. Also, be sure to chill the patties before cooking. This firms them up so they’re easier to handle.
4 brioche buns or hamburger buns, split and toasted
4 oz. block feta cheese, sliced into 4 even slabs
In a large bowl, combine the panko, 1 tablespoon sumac, cumin, pepper flakes, yolks, ¾ teaspoon salt, ½ teaspoon pepper and ¼ cup water. Using a fork, mash the mixture until evenly moistened and well combined.
Add the lamb and mix with your hands until well combined. Form into 4 evenly sized patties, each about 4 inches in diameter, then place on a large plate and refrigerate for about 15 minutes.
Meanwhile, in a small bowl, whisk together the tahini, yogurt, lemon juice, the remaining ¼ teaspoon sumac and ¼ teaspoon each salt and pepper; set aside.
In a 12-inch nonstick skillet over medium-high, heat the oil until barely smoking. Add the patties and cook until well browned on the bottoms, 5 to 7 minutes. Flip each patty, reduce to medium-low and cook until well browned on the second sides and the centers reach 160°F, another 5 to 7 minutes.
Transfer to a clean plate, tent with foil and let rest for about 5 minutes. Meanwhile, spread the tahini sauce on the bun halves. Sandwich the burgers in the buns, placing a slice of feta on each patty.
Our long-time friend Merry Sue was going to be staying overnight with us so we wanted to prepare an elegant, yet simple meal. After assuring that she did indeed like lamb, we went to one of our tried and true braising wizards, Molly Stevens, and found this Braised Lamb Shanks with Garlic & Vermouth (Souris aux Aulx) recipe.
Given that I was gallery-sitting all afternoon the day she arrived, and wouldn’t be home until the evening, The Hubs smartly braised the shanks the day before (see tip below). The entrée was paired with two other tried-and-true side dishes: Dorie Greenspan’s Celery Root Purée and a most recent Balsamic Roasted Brussels Sprouts and Shallots.
As there were only three of us and the recipe fed six, we halved only the number of shanks but kept all of the other ingredients at full throttle. In fact, if you are making six shanks, you may want to double everything else for the extra sauce. The recipe enhances the flavor of lamb. It is truly delicious and so simple to make; elegant enough for a dinner party or special occasion, yet it’s quick to prep, and is almost effortless as a casual supper.
TIP: The dish can be made up to three days ahead. After braising, transfer the shanks to a baking dish. Strain and season the sauce as directed in the recipe. Pour a little strained sauce over the shanks to moisten them. Refrigerate the shanks and the sauce separately, both tightly covered. Before serving, reheat the chilled sauce, pour it over the shanks in the baking dish, cover the dish with foil, and warm in a 325ºF oven for about 30 min. Finish with the herbs and black pepper, and serve.
1 cup dry white vermouth, preferably Vya or Noilly Pratt
2 bay leaves
2 heads garlic, separated into cloves (unpeeled)
2 tsp. fresh lemon juice; more as needed
1/4 cup chopped fresh herbs, preferably a mix of mint and parsley (chervil and chives are also good)
Position a rack in the lower third of the oven and heat the oven to 325°F. If necessary, trim any excess fat from the lamb shanks, but don’t trim away the thin membrane that holds the meat to the bone (we mistakenly did). Season the shanks all over with salt and pepper.
Heat the oil over medium heat in a large Dutch oven or other heavy braising pot large enough to accommodate the lamb shanks in a snug single layer. When the oil is shimmering, add half the shanks and brown them on all sides, 12 to 15 min. total. Set the browned shanks on a platter. Repeat with the remaining shanks. When all the shanks are browned, pour off and discard the fat from the pan.
Set the pan over medium-high heat and add the vermouth. As it boils, stir with a wooden spoon to dissolve any drippings. Return the shanks to the pan, arranging them as best you can so they fit snugly. Tuck the bay leaves in between the shanks and scatter the garlic over them. Cover and braise in the oven, turning the shanks every 45 min., until fork-tender, 1-1/2 to 2 hours.
Transfer the shanks to a platter and cover with foil to keep warm. Tilt the braising pot to pool the juices at one end and skim off and discard any surface fat. Pour what remains in the pot into a medium-mesh sieve set over a bowl. Discard the bay leaves. With a rubber spatula, scrape over and press down on the garlic cloves so the pulp goes through but not the skins; be sure to scrape the pulp clinging to the bottom of the strainer into the sauce. Whisk in the lemon juice. Taste and add salt, pepper, and more lemon juice if needed. To serve, pour the sauce over the shanks and shower them with the chopped herbs and a little freshly ground pepper.
Although this looks like a traditional beef stew recipe, it’s not made like one. While the beef—or lamb as in our recipe—braises in the oven, the carrots, mushrooms, and onions roast on a sheet pan alongside for a caramelized flavor. How’s that for a change?
We made this on a Sunday afternoon for a weeknight meal when we knew there wouldn’t be much time to prep dinner. But of course we had to taste-test the finished product. WOW, it was fantastic. The lamb (you could use stew beef instead) was super tender and the sauce was so silky and full of flavor.
Instead of one or the other, we used both carrots and parsnips. If you choose to include parsnips, make sure to remove the woody core before cooking them.
4 carrots or parsnips, peeled and cut into 1- to 2-inch pieces, or 2 cups baby carrots
2 cups sliced cremini or button mushrooms
1 medium onion, cut into thin wedges
1 cup frozen peas
2 croissants, cut into 1/2-inch chunks (optional)
2 Tbsp. butter, melted
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 Tbsp. finely chopped flat-leaf parsley
Arrange oven racks, placing one rack at the lowest level. Preheat oven to 325°F. In a 5- to 6-qt. Dutch oven heat 1 Tbsp. olive oil over medium-high. Add half the beef and bacon; cook until browned, stirring occasionally. Using a slotted spoon, transfer meat to a bowl. Add an additional 1 Tbsp. olive oil, remaining beef and bacon, and the sliced garlic to Dutch oven. Cook 3 minutes, stirring occasionally. Return all meat to Dutch oven. Stir in tomato paste; cook and stir 2 minutes.
Carefully add wine, stirring to scrape up any browned bits from bottom of pot. Reserve 1/2 cup of the 50%-less-sodium beef broth. Add remaining broth to meat mixture. Stir in thyme and 1/2 tsp. each salt and ground black pepper. Bring to boiling. Cover and place pot on the lower oven rack; braise 1 hour.
In a small bowl whisk together reserved 1/2 cup broth and the flour; stir into beef mixture. Stir in barley. Bake, covered, 35 minutes more or until barley is tender and stew is thickened.
Meanwhile, in a shallow baking pan combine carrots, mushrooms, onion, remaining 1 Tbsp. olive oil, and remaining 1/4 tsp. each salt and pepper; toss to coat. Place on a separate oven rack; roast, uncovered, 45 minutes, stirring once.
Stir vegetables and peas into stew; let stand, covered, 5 minutes. Increase oven temperature to 425°F.
OPTIONAL: For croutons: Line a shallow baking pan with foil. In a large bowl combine croissant chunks, melted butter, minced garlic, and parsley; toss to mix. Spread croissants evenly in prepared pan. Bake 5 minutes or until toasted; let cool. Serve croutons over stew.
*If you sub in brown rice, increase baking time in Step 3 to 45 minutes.