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substituting for lamb shanks?

ca262626 Oct 1, 2011 08:11 AM

So, last weekend, I asked the meat and dairy guy at our neighborhood market to bring me some lamb shanks today. (He only brings certain things with him each Saturday, with other cuts available upon request.) Unfortunately, when I showed up this morning to pick them up, he had forgotten them.

I was going to braise them in pretty standard fashion. I've never really worked with any other lamb before, and am not an expert on various cuts by any means. Our meat guy is much more of a farmer than a cook, so he wasn't a ton of help... I asked if he had any other cuts that would do well braised, and had to sort of explain that a tougher cut with some bone and connective tissue would be good - he pulled out some cuts labeled just as "roasts" that were cut from the leg, just above the knee or thereabouts.

To my untrained eye, they looked like they would still work braised. Does anyone know for sure, and if I should consider any tweaks to the technique? Or should I switch plans and roast them? I'm so in the mood for a good braise now (it's finally a little cool here this weekend!) that I'm hoping not to have to go another route, but I also want to do right by the meat of course!


  1. monavano Oct 1, 2011 08:48 AM

    The leg will do just fine. It has enough marbling to braise.
    Roasting is also fantastic, so I think you've got good choices.

    1. scubadoo97 Oct 2, 2011 06:05 PM

      Sounds like he pulled out what is often called the sirloin cut of the leg. This meat can be cooked med/rare or I guess you could braise it till it's fall apart tender.

      1. f
        fourunder Oct 3, 2011 07:59 AM

        . I asked if he had any other cuts that would do well braised...

        Neck, shoulder(stew meat), shoulder blade, Blade Chops.......all make nice ragout

        i would not use the leg for a braise....grilled or roasted only.

        4 Replies
        1. re: fourunder
          BobB Oct 3, 2011 08:17 AM

          Why not braise a leg? It's very common in lamb-friendly cuisines like Greek and French. Have you never tried kleftiko, for example? Fantastic dish.

          1. re: BobB
            fourunder Oct 3, 2011 08:40 AM

            Yes I have Kleftiko, but it has always been roasted in paper or foil in the oven. I''ve had it with both shoulder and leg......I prefer the shoulder

            To answer your question though.....why not braise a leg......it comes down to economy and food costs where shoulders are less expensive, added by the fact I do not believe the more expensive cut would make the dish any better. I also prefer the leg meat roasted or grilled no more than medium-rare temperature.

            While not a a perfect comparison.....it's like ordering Chicken Fried Steak.......Making it with Tenderloin would not make the dish any better.

            1. re: fourunder
              BobB Oct 3, 2011 09:06 AM

              Funny, I don't think of leg of lamb as an expensive cut, certainly not compared to shanks, which is where this discussion started. They're usually comparable per pound, and there's a better meat-to-bone ratio on the leg.

              Chicken Fried Steak is no comparison at all - I'm pretty sure there aren't many (or any) recipes for it that call for tenderloin, while a quick google on braised leg of lamb recipes brings up a few hundred thousand hits.

              Even kleftiko is basically braised, in the sense of being cooked by moist, not dry, heat. That's what sealing it up in paper or foil accomplishes.

              1. re: BobB
                fourunder Oct 3, 2011 09:31 AM

                Chicken Fried Steak is no comparison at all - I'm pretty sure there aren't many (or any) recipes for it that call for tenderloin,
                It's offered with tenderloin in more than a few restaurants....

                with regard to google hits....just because it's there(recipe), or posted, doesn't make it any good.

                The whole leg of lambs in my area stores when not on sale go for 42-65 bucks(imported-domestic, 6-8 lbs). Smaller portions are $9.99-12.99). I would consider that expensive.

        2. WCchopper Oct 3, 2011 08:51 AM

          Neck is a great and often less expensive alternative to shanks. My butcher cut one in half lengthwise and I cooked it the same way I would cook shanks.

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