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I need another side: Main Dish Lamb Shanks

Could someone recommend another side to round out my menu.

Braised Lamb Shanks with Mint (Molly Stevens recipe)
Roasted Asparagus with Parmesan
Side #2 ?????

Rhubarb Crumb Coffee Cake
Various Custards

This is going to be dinner for my mom the first week of April so I do have time. I would like something seasonal and fairly simple. I'd prefer not to do a green salad or another green side.

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  1. I'm thinking starch, most likely pasta, more specifically, orzo. Some sauteed tricolored bell peppers with onions would be simple enough and pretty. If you can get the colored orzo even better. I did see a package of "Black and White Tie Orzo" the other day but didn't buy it. You could do that with sauteed wild mushrooms, or sub fusilli or a tubular pasta for the orzo.

    1 Reply
    1. re: rednails

      I second the orzo, but I suggest an orzo "risotto." Made one last night by first browning about 1/3 of the total amount of orzo (I was cooking for one), a little garlic, and some mushrooms in olive oil, then add the other 2/3 of the orzo and then chicken stock in the standard add/stir risotto method until the orzo is plump, al dente, and in a very glutinous sauce. Adjust seasonings if needed. Present with a scattering of minced parsley. Had it with lamb chops. As the saying goes, "A marriage made in heaven."

    2. IMO, nothing goes with lamb shanks better than white beans! Here is a recipe from epicurious (the bean recipe is under the shank recipe):

      1. Not seasonal, but with all that yummy sauce I'd like something to mop it up--mashed potatoes, simply buttered noodles. Seasonal, but not as good at mopping would be a shell bean ragout or puree, or even Tuscan beans

        4 Replies
        1. re: JoanN

          I have recently been using Israli CousCous with my lamb shanks and it is a huge hit. Very different from regular couscous

          1. re: Analisas mom

            Analisas mom, What is Israli Couscous?

          2. re: JoanN

            I agree. If you want a twist on mashed potatoes, how about something like parsnip puree? Maybe with some green garlic to make it more "seasonal"?

            1. re: Ruth Lafler

              parsnip puree is what came to my mind too, or a parsnip custard.

          3. Another suggestion is for a nice polenta- either soft or pan-fried rounds/triangles. It's not really 'seasonal', but it will definitely help with absorbing some of the braising juices.

            6 Replies
              1. re: 4Snisl

                This is what I serve with that same lamb shank recipe. Love the two together, even more than potatoes or white beans. Yes. I have tried every variation imaginable and keep coming back to polenta.

                1. re: smtucker

                  I love polenta with this too but recently had a craving for couscous with lamb shanks and it was wonderful ( and no work at all!)

                  1. re: magiesmom

                    The oven polenta method means easy! If you don't have a link to this chow thread, I will post it.

                  2. re: smtucker

                    Polenta with garlic, thyme and plenty of parmesan and a bit of butter. Heaven with lamb!

                    servings for four takes about 15 minutes in the microwave, just stir it about 5 times inthe last 5 minutes to develope the glutin and create the creaminess. Cheese and butter go in last stir.
                    4 or 5 to one ratio water to polenta, high power.

                2. The standard Greek restaurant accompaniments for lamb are green beans and thick-sliced roasted new potatoes with plenty of garlic. I agree that you need something to soak up the juices, such as orzo or rice. Kasha and lamb will stand up to each other quite well. Tiny French Puy lentils would also be fine.

                  1 Reply
                  1. I'm trying to send away for dinner this Easter to make it easy - what do you think of this combo?
                    an appetizer of coconut shrimp with apricot mango chutney sauce, rack of lamb, lobster ravioli with a white wine butter sauce, zucchini sticks, and lemon lava cake for dessert. I know it's different, but I've been doing some heavy cooking lately with a bad back ~ does anyone see a clash of taste here? Thanks for your input!

                    9 Replies
                    1. re: islestyle

                      Your menu is tasteful and fabbaslis "as-is." The one change I'd even consider making is this:
                      Your appetizer is a bit fruity and sounds delicious - do you want to repeat fruit in dessert? Might chocolate something work?
                      As I said, your menu is lovely. It really doesn't need revision, but if I was going to change ONE thing, that would be it.
                      I hope your back feels much better soon; just went through an episode of it myself and it isn't conducive to a big cooking fest, is it?

                          1. re: magiesmom

                            appetizer: three coconut shrimp drizzled with an apricot mango chutney. No?

                            1. re: islestyle

                              I see. I thought we were still talking to the OP. sorry.

                        1. re: islestyle

                          Sorry, but I think your menu is totally scattershot. If you leave out the lamb it hangs together a little better. But for Easter, lamb is probably the most important part, in which case scrap the shrimp and lobster, add polenta, couscous, pilaf, or roasted new potatoes. Heve a vegetarian or chicken-based soup as a first course, making use of spring vegetables - e.g. cream of asparagus soup.

                          1. re: greygarious

                            I agree with you, gg. "Scattershot" is a good term for how it sounds to me also.

                            1. re: c oliver

                              Thirded. That sounds way too all over the place for me.

                              The sweet shrimp will clash with the earthy lamb, and lamb will overwhelm lobster ravioli, and the slight bitterness of the zucchini will clash with the sweet lobster...

                              Maybe pick one element that is the most important and start over?

                              1. re: andytee

                                I find menu creation FAR more difficult than the actual cooking.

                        2. After reading through the responses to date I don't see lentils. IMO lentils and lamb go great together.
                          For something simple you can't beat lentils.

                          I use French or brown lentils. First doing a brunoise of carrots, celery and onions. These are added to the lentils and water which is then simmered with salt. You can saute the veg first to get some color if you want. In the end the carrots and the onions provide a level of sweetness that makes the dish very appealing. Cook until the lentils are just soft and the majority of the liquid has been absorbed. It can be cooled and reheated for service. This can be used along side of another side without much problem

                          1. I'm also going to say white beans. I've been wanting to try this made from cannellini


                            1. There are two different starch side dishes I usually do with lamb.

                              1. Saffron rice, if it's a braise style lamb dish with gravy. I just do this in my rice cooker. Use chicken broth for liquid, crumble in a few saffron threads, and stir in 1/4 to 1/2 cup frozen peas. I usually use the fatter arborio rice. Traditionally, this type of saffron rice is served with Oso Bucco - Italian veal shanks braised in tomato sauce, but it definitely works with lamb.

                              2. Roasted rosemary new potatoes, if it's grilled or roasted lamb. Toss some small new potatoes with crushed garlic, salt, pepper, minced rosemary, olive oil, and roast in pan in the oven 350 to 400 for about 30 mins. Check at 20. Time depends on the size of the potatoes and heat of the oven.

                              Artichokes also go really well with lamb.

                              And a nice big greek salad with dill and feta and lemon added to the vinaigrette dressing will go well too.

                              Sounds good! I do lamb a lot because I love it!


                              1. This is what I serve with my Lamb shanks
                                1 lb baby red potatos
                                1/4 cup heavy cream
                                4Tb kerrigan butter
                                1 T spoon shaved black truffle
                                white pepper

                                boil potatos till soft drain smoosh till smooth but not smashed..
                                bring cream and butter to a boil add to potatos and stir in... salt and pepper to taste ...fold in truffles

                                1 Reply
                                1. re: girloftheworld

                                  Holy cow, forget the lamb; I'm coming for the potatoes. A TABLESPOON of truffles??? Oh yeah.

                                2. alton brown's gingerale carrots, it's online...also, i did my peas in a creamed mint sauce, bound the peas together nicely and everyone loved them.