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Sep 4, 2013 07:54 AM

Lamb shanks with caramelized onions, from NY Times

I'm planning to make this today, but the recipe calls for cooking the shanks in the oven for two hours at 275 degrees. I've never cooked meat at such a low heat...pardon the dumb question, but is this safe? Thanks.

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  1. Assuming that you bring it up to a simmer before you put it in the oven, yes, that temp will keep it at a low simmer. I would not start the dish cold at that low temp. But 275 is what I use routinely for oven braising, it keeps it at just the right low simmer.

    1 Reply
    1. re: GretchenS

      Thanks, GretchenS. I cooked it at 325 and it was perfect.

    2. Think about it this way: when you roast a chicken at very high temperatures, the chicken never gets as hot as the air -- indeed, you can roast a chicken at 400F but you want it out of the oven the second the chicken's thighs hit 165F to keep the chicken from drying out, right?

      From a safety standpoint, everything is about the temperature of the food, not the temperature of the air or water surrounding it. So long as you raise the internal temperature of the meat to a safe level and then don't leave it in the 40-140F danger zone for more than two hours, you're good regardless of whether you got it to that temperature quickly or slowly and whether you used air, oil, water or metal as your primary heat transmission agent,

      1. Yes, it is certainly safe. You can even drop the temperature down to 200 degrees and cook it longer. In fact, I doubt the shanks will be done in two hours unless you are at sea level and they are fore shanks. Don't worry so much about the temps, 140 kills the bacteria and the internal meat should be sterile. "Low and Slow" is the way to cook shanks.

        1. Mine is in the oven now - smells delicious, looks delicious... meat is tender and everything. But there is a ton of liquid in the pot with the onions, I presume from the fat rendered. And the onions are not caramelized - they're soft and sauteed and everything but not caramel-y like I imagined.

          Any suggestions? Should I remove the lamb and cook down the onions on the stovetop more?

          2 Replies
          1. re: laurendlewis

            In the picture, they look like a light beige color, so I don't think they are caramelized as in dark brown, like for French onion soup. The recipe calls for 1.25 cups of water, plus the juices from the lamb, and it cooks for 2.25 hours, so I would think most of the water would have cooked off. Assuming you've cooked it for the full length of time, at the right temp, I'd simmer down the onions, but they won't brown the way you are hoping too with the water in them.

            1. re: boogiebaby

              Thanks! I ended up pouring the onions & liquid through a strainer then into a gravy separator. I put the onions back into the pot, got them a little darker, then poured the liquid-sans-some-fat back into the pot to reduce. Then added the lamb back in. Also ended up adding more than a cup (maybe 1 1/2 - 2 c) of the fruit mixture at the end.

          2. It's perfectly safe, I cook my lamb shanks at 250F usually or even lower.