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Feb 6, 2012 07:49 PM

lamb shanks...roasted or braised?

i was going to make a lamb shoulder but decided it was just too fatty (vs. a pork shoulder which, i think, has more meat together with some fat). i was going to do the long cook - as described in the l.a. times article from way back in 2009 about 6-8 hours of slow cooking (i've done it for pork shoulder before and it was superb..but one of our guests doesn't eat pork but does love lamb).

anyway, am thinking lamb shanks now...thinking 1 per person (they are about a pound each) ...but wondering if they can be slow roasted at 250 or would braising be the much better way to go?

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    1. I'm going to vote for braising. It's all about the delicious cooking liquid. Tie them to keep them on the bone.
      Good luck!

      1. There are recipes where braised turns into roasted toward the end of the cooking when you take off the lid--assuming it was cooked in the oven--and allow the liquids to reduce while the top half of the meat browns. Can make for a wonderful finish.

        1. Braised in red wine is the way to go.

          That said, make sure you brown the shanks well before you add the wine and braise them. That's the secret to great braised meat.

          4 Replies
          1. re: Db Cooper

            Isn't it a pain to brown shanks well? How many minutes, dare I say hours, of painstaking turning does it require? An alternative is to limit the braising liquid, so a good portion of the shakes are exposed to the moist but hot air inside the braising pot. You'll be surprised how much good color and flavor develops during a proper braise.

            1. re: paulj

              If your oil is hot, it takes about 15 minutes to brown them. You have to turn them three times total. It doesn't have to be perfect on the outside, just a good start. Depending on how many you have and the size of your Dutch oven, may have to work in batches. But it isn't that big a pain and in no way takes hours unless you are browning a huge amount, something 99.9% of home cooks aren't doing.

              1. re: Db Cooper

                the browning of the meat is key to the flavor of the sauce. same with browning the onions and carrots before adding any liquid.

                1. re: hotoynoodle

                  Never thought about it that way. Looks like I'll have to start browning them. Thanks! Aside from that, my vote is for braised and with red wine, same as DB. Cooked with cumin and garlic and served with a side of rice to ladle some braising liquid onto. Salad too. If possible a cucumber& tomato salad.

          2. Definitely braised. Shanks take a long time to cook and don't have a lot of fat, and if you don't have any liquid, they'll end up pretty dry by the time they are ready.