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Lamb Shanks in the Slow Cooker?

  • j

I have four lovely lamb shanks that I purchased at the farmer's market, and a new slow cooker, and a guest coming for dinner on a work night. I am still slightly suspicious of the slow cooker, not having had much experience with it. So, what tips and suggestions do you have to help me have a successful and tasty lamb shank experience? Any way of preparing them you especially like?

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  1. I love braised lamb shanks! I use a cast iron dutch oven because I don't have a slow cooker, but you can use either pot to get lucious lamb shanks

    Season the shanks with salt and pepper and brown nicely on both sides over medium heat in a heavy skillet. Do not allow to burn.

    Meanwhile, slice several large onions into 1/3" slices and layer into the bottom of your cooking pot. Season with S&P. Place the browned shanks on top and tuck in 6-10 peeled whole garlic cloves. Add several sprigs of fresh thyme if you have it, or 1 1/2 tsp dried, a bay leaf or two and a spinkle of ground cloves--about 1/4 tsp.

    Put 1 1/4 C water or 1/2 water, 1/2 red wine into the meat-browning pan and heat and stir to loosen the crispy bits, and pour this liquid over the shanks in the cooking pot, and cover.

    Either cook in the oven at 250 for several hours, or cook on low in a slow cooker. The juices will thicken and reduce a bit while cooking; if too liquidy, remove meats and vegetables and reduce cooking liquid stove-top till slightly thick. Remove meat from bones, and return meat and vegetables carefully to pot.

    Delicious served over an herbed parmesan polenta.

    2 Replies
    1. re: toodie jane

      Sounds delicious! Thanks for all the details...

      1. re: toodie jane

        p.s.: you can cook this stovetop too, over a very low flame, if the pot lid fits tightly; just so the simmer ripples the surface, no roiling.

      2. I use my slow cooker quite a bit & make both lamb & beef shanks in the slow cooker all the time, but I do start out browning the meat on the stove top by sprinkling with salt & pepper and dusting with flour. Add a couple of teaspoons of veg or canola oil to a skillet, brown on all sides then place the meat in the slow cooker. Put the skillet back on the stove; de-glaze with beef stock, red wine (Optional), and a tablespoon of tomato paste.

        Bring the skillet up to a simmer then add one sliced onion, a couple cloves of garlic, a stalk of celery, chopped. Cook for five minutes, then pour into slow cooker. Cook for 6-8 hours on low or about 5-6 hours on high temp. If you want to add carrots & potatoes, for example, you could add it after the first 3 hours (for slow cooking) or just put it in the cooker when you start it.

        1. My bud in NZ suprised me one night...with a dark ale (speights), tomatoes, curry/masala spices or cumin, tumeric, onion, garlic, celery seed, bay...and then served with crusty bread and more speights. YUM!

          1 Reply
          1. re: stepawayfromthetable

            Made my mouth water. Must try soon. Maybe add dried apricots to add a slightly sweet element similar to tagine. Will probably serve over couscous to enjoy the sauce. Thanks for pinging my brain. :)

          2. I love lamb shanks and have done them in my slow cooker a few times. They are better if you can spoon the fat off the sauce so what I do is make them over night, separate the meat from the sauce and refrigerate. Then yuo can server them that night, spoon fast off the sauce combine the meat and the sauce again and reheat. Yum!!

            1. Thanks for the ideas everyone. I browned the shanks, then sauteed onion, celery, carrot, garlic - deglazed pan with red wine, beef broth, added some chopped prunes, and put it all in the cooker with a few bay leaves. Cooked them on low for 10 hours. They were falling apart tender and delicious, just as you predicted! Happy dinner guest. Daily unadventures, your tip on cooking them ahead so you can skim the fat is great and I will do that next time. The sauce was just too fatty to use.

              2 Replies
              1. re: Janer

                Glad I helped! The tip was from experience, trust me!

                1. re: Janer

                  What did you serve it with? Rice? Egg noodles? Parslied potatoes?

                2. another time--say a weekend day--you might try oven braising. take the lid off the pan for the last two hours of cooking--turning the shanks every half hour. assuming that the meat is about half submerged in the braising goo, you'll get a nice deep caramelized crust on the meat exposed to dry heat.

                  we like to serve the shanks with the meat still on the bone--peel off tender, not fall of tender--and so don't come close to a 10 hour braising period. more like 4 hours in a low oven. i think the meat is more flavorful if you can avoid steaming it.

                  1. Okay, here's a really delayed response. In a general way, I am really learning to love my crockpot, especially in the summer when I don't want the oven on. I made some lamb shanks over the last couple of nights that came out great! Basically like a lamb shank/pot roast. My recipe was kind of based on http://homecooking.about.com/od/lambr.... Here was my problem. As suggested, I was going to make in the crockpot a day early, to give it time to chill so I could scrape the fat off the top. But all the ingredients wouldn't fit in my crockpot. Those lamb shanks are long! But I didn't want to do it all in my 6qt. Le Creuset, because I didn't have room in the fridge for that. So I did all the ingredients except the mushrooms, carrots & potatoes in the crockpot for 6 hours, chilled overnight, scraped the fat, then moved to LC, added the other veggies and just a little water that I used to rinse the crockpot, and simmered another hour or so. Served with horseradish. Oh WTH, here's the whole recipe:
                    Crockpot Lamb Shanks
                    Lamb shanks are not very tender and require slow braising. The crockpot is the perfect choice to tenderize tough meat. These lamb shanks are flavored with garlic, onions, mushrooms, herbs, red wine, and tomatoes. To reduce the fat, refrigerate overnight, scrape off the congealed fat, and reheat before serving. The garlic cloves are extremely mild when cooked whole. If you like a stronger garlic flavor, mince some of the garlic before adding to the crockpot.

                    Prep Time: 20 minutes
                    Cook Time: 8 hours
                    Yield: 4 servings

                    •1 sweet onion, sliced and separated into rings
                    •4 lamb shanks
                    •1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
                    •1 teaspoon kosher salt
                    •Freshly ground black pepper
                    •1 teaspoon olive oil
                    •10 whole, peeled garlic cloves, large ones cut in half (or more to taste
                    )•8 ounces mushrooms, brushed clean, large ones cut in half
                    Baby carrots
                    •1/2 cup red wine
                    •1/2 cup strong beef broth (double-strength)
                    •1 can diced tomatoes
                    •1 teaspoon dried oregano
                    •1 teaspoon dried basil
                    •4 sprigs fresh thyme
                    •1 teaspoon ground allspice
                    •1 small bay leaf, broken in half


                    Spread sliced and separated onion rings on bottom of crockpot.
                    Rub lamb shanks with Worcestershire sauce, then sprinkle all over with salt and pepper and dust with flour.
                    Heat a heavy skillet over medium-high heat. Add olive oil and brown the lamb shanks. Place browned lamb shanks, in the slow cooker crock on top of the onions. Add tomatoes, oregano, basil, thyme, allspice, and bay leaf Top with whole garlic cloves, carrots, and mushrooms. (Could also add potatoes.) Deglaze pan with wine & broth. along with any browned bits from the skillet ,. Pour mixture over the vegetables and lamb shanks.

                    Cook on low for 6 to 8 hours or until tender. Taste and adjust seasoning, if necessary. Could add cornstarch 1 hour before finishing. Serve with warm crispy bread.

                    Serve with pan juices and vegetables, or even better, make this a day ahead of time and refrigerate. This way you can easily scrape off the excess fat from the gravy before reheating and serving. If no potatoes, could serve over polenta for the gravy.

                    2 Replies
                    1. re: annomy

                      Just came across your excellent recipe. One question . . . what size can of diced tomatoes?

                      1. re: Alfred G

                        Oh, I wish I could say for sure, but honestly don't exactly remember. My gut/guess is that it was the smaller (14.5 oz) can. If you make it, please let me know how it turns out. Enjoy!