It always amazes me how dishes served up by fancy restaurants are actually made with a handful of everyday ingredients. Like these slow cooked Port Braised Lamb Shanks. Nothing tricky about them, just patience to let them cook slowly. Budget ingredients to make posh restaurant food!
I think I’m a pretty relaxed cook but regular readers know I have a few gripes. One is pretty photos for recipes that taste blah. And the other is recipes that demand that expensive wine be used for cooking, otherwise, don’t bother.
I love my wine. And if I buy expensive wine, I want to drink it straight. Not simmered for 3 hours.
And I guarantee, if the poshest of restaurant critics did a taste test of these Port Braised Lamb Shanks with an expensive vs discount bottle of port, they would struggle to tell the difference!
I won’t deny that using a $50 vs $10 bottle of port makes a difference. But the difference is not worth $40, I promise you that. These Port Braised Lamb Shanks taste so expensive, you can tell your guests you used a vintage 1980’s port and they would believe you! 😉
And this Port Braised Lamb Shanks is right up there with them. Look at that sauce. Glistening, rich, full of flavour.
Lamb shanks are a tough cut of meat that require slow cooking to turn them into molten goodness. The cheaper and tougher the cut, the more flavourful. And lamb shanks are no exception.
There is no need to provide a knife when you serve this. The meat is so soft, you just need a fork. Or spoon. 🙂
I made this in my dutch oven, but you can make it in a slow cooker or even in the oven and I’ve provided instructions for all in the recipe.
When I’m entertaining, slow cooked foods like this are my “go to” because they’re impressive and can be made ahead. They taste fantastic on the day, but even better the day after – and the day after!
I really love serving my Port Braised Lamb Shanks with creamy mashed potato. I’ve tried mashed cauliflower and polenta, but I just don’t think they are as good as the classic ole’ mash.
Who else is up for some slow cooked comfort this weekend??? – Nagi x
- 4 lamb shanks , approx 400g/13oz each (Note 1)
- Salt and pepper
- 2 tbsp olive oil , separated
- 2 garlic cloves , minced
- 1 onion , finely chopped (white, brown, yellow)
- 1 celery stalk , finely chopped (optional, but recommended)
- 1 carrot , finely chopped (optional, but recommended)
- 3 tbsp / 1/4 cup flour (35g)
- 2 cups / 500 ml beef broth (liquid beef stock) (or sub with chicken broth)
- 3 cups / 750 ml port (Note 2)
- 1 1/2 cups / 375ml red wine , or more beef broth (Note 3)
- 3 tbsp / 1/4 cup tomato paste
- 5 sprigs thyme or 2 tsp dried thyme
- 3 dried bay leaves (or 5 fresh)
- 4 stalks fresh parsley (optional)
- Fresh parsley , finely chopped
Season lamb with salt and pepper.
Heat 1 tbsp oil in a dutch oven or large heavy based pot over high heat. Add 2 lamb shanks and cook, turning, until browned (see photo). Remove then repeat with remaining lamb.
Turn heat down to medium. Add remaining 1 tbsp oil, garlic, onion, carrot and celery. Sauté for 5 minutes until onion is softened.
Add flour. Mix into onion mixture.
Add remaining ingredients. Mix - lumps are ok, they will dissolve while cooking.
Add lamb back in - the meat should be mostly submerged. Bring to simmer, then turn heat down to medium low and cover with lid.
Simmer for 2 hours (Note 4) then remove lid and simmer for 30 minutes.
Remove lamb into a bowl.
Optional: Strain sauce in dutch oven into a bowl. Use spoon to press into onion etc to squeeze out all the flavourful liquid. Pour sauce into dutch oven. (Note 5)
Skim excess fat off sauce.
Increase heat to medium high and reduce liquid by half or until it thickens to a syrup consistency.
Return lamb shanks and juices pooled in the bowl into sauce to reheat, then serve with creamy mashed potato, garnished with parsley.
1. Lamb shanks come in all manner of sizes and cuts. Go for lamb shanks of a suitable size per serving, bearing in mind the size of your pot and that they will shrink by about 25% when cooked. Some lamb shanks come with the bone partially cut so they bend to fit into the pot, which is helpful. My lamb shanks were about 400g/13oz each and 4 fit inside a standard dutch oven, mostly submerged. They don't need to be full submerged in the liquid as the steam will cook the exposed surface (as well as browning them nicely) and they should be turned while cooking.
ALTERNATE PROTEINS: This recipe is also be sensational made with beef cheeks and chunky beef ribs. It was a toss up which version to share, but I went for shanks because I think it looks grand!
2. There is no need to use expensive port and wine for this! It will taste lovely even using discount end of line bottles which I use, however, if you do use expense bottles, then of course it will give it an edge. But I do not. I shop at Dan Murphy's and Aldi's for cheap bottles. I honestly believe that for slow cooked things, you can barely tell the difference whether you use expensive or discount liquor. The port I use is $10 for a 750ml/25oz bottle.
You can use ruby or tawny port. By the time this has slow cooked, there is not much difference between the two except that ruby gives you a slightly redder sauce because ruby port is redder than tawny which is a deep brown colour. (Ruby port is younger, tawny is aged).
3. Using red wine instead of more beef broth gives this a slight edge in the depth of flavour of the sauce, but not much. I often make it without red wine, using more beef broth instead.
4. This step can be done in a 160C/320F oven (covered with foil or lid) for 2 hours covered then 30 min uncovered. Then reduce sauce on the stove per recipe. Or cook in a slow cooker on low for 8 hours, then follow recipe to reduce sauce on the stove.
5. Straining the sauce makes it "restauranty" by making it lump free. This step is optional.
6. This gets better overnight. To make ahead, follow the entire recipe then let cool, then refrigerate overnight in the dutch oven. Scrape fat off surface. Reheat on the stove or @180C in oven for 15 minutes (covered).
7. To make this gluten free, omit the flour. When the lamb is cooked, remove it, then mix 2 tsp cornflour/cornstarch with 2 tbsp water. Add into the sauce, mix and let it thicken.
8. This recipe is inspired by these famous Beef Cheeks in Pedo Ximenez (Spanish Sherry), a recipe by Frank Camorra, an Australian chef and restauranteur. These beef cheeks are the signature dish at his Movida restaurants.
9. Nutrition does NOT take into account fat skimmed off the sauce. If you leave this overnight, you will get more fat out of the sauce.
Save this Port Braised Lamb Shanks to your “Sides” Pinterest Board!
And let’s be friends on Pinterest so you can see all the delicious recipes I’m pinning!
LIFE OF DOZER
Beach-wet-Dozer eyeing off the lamb shanks, thinking Christmas came early….