Lamb Shanks in the Slow Cooker?
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?
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.
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.
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!!
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.
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.