Lamb Shank Ragu

Preheat oven to 300°F

Pour boiling water over, enough to cover:

a handful of dried mushrooms, such as Hen-of-the-Woods, Porcini, or Chanterelles

Set aside and let mushrooms absorb water and cool down.  Pour into a large Dutch oven:

Several glugs of olive oil

Heat over medium-high heat until hot and shimmering. Add:

3 or 4 large lamb shanks (or 5 to 6 medium)

Brown the shanks on all sides (in batches, if necessary to not crowd them), about 10-12 minutes total.  Remove the shanks to a platter and set aside.  Make sure you have enough oil in the pan to sauté, then add:

1 medium onion, finely diced

3 carrots, finely diced

3 stalks of celery, finely diced

Sauté the vegetables until they begin to soften, about 5 minutes.  Be sure to scrape up the fond from the meat as well as you can (lots of flavor).  Drain dried mushrooms and reserve liquid, then chop coarsely and add to the vegetables.  Pour in:

A few glugs of dry white vermouth or dry white wine

Sauté vegetables and wine for a few minutes, then return lamb shanks to the pan, along with:

2 cups of chicken stock

3 sprigs of rosemary

3 sprigs of thyme

1-3 bay leaves

Bring the mixture to a simmer and add:

1 small can of diced tomatoes

Feel free to drain the tomatoes if you think that there is enough liquid in the pan for braising; if the liquid does not come up to about half-way on the lamb, add a little of the reserved mushroom liquid, otherwise, use it in a soup/stock recipe.  Once the liquid comes to a full boil, cover tightly and place into the oven for 2.5 to 3 hours.


Once the lamb finished cooking, it should be fall-off-the-bone tender, which usually tempts me to remove it from the bones completely and shred with my fingers to make a chunky sauce to serve over pasta (whichever you choose, but I prefer pappardelle).  You may wish to do this in advance and let the mixture sit overnight.  When preparing to serve, I usually find it helpful to bring the mixture to temperature in the oven to let the liquid reduce further and intensify the flavors.  An alternative serving method is to plate the shanks whole (especially if they are uniformly medium-sized) over some creamy polenta or mashed potatoes, along with some of the cooked vegetables.  I usually discard the large stems from the herbs just before serving.


4 thoughts on “Lamb Shank Ragu

  1. […] to make something familiar to me so that I would not run the risk of a bad meal.  I decided on Braised Lamb Shanks with Pappardelle Pasta, which is something that I usually only make for company.  Aaron and I normally don’t eat […]

  2. Christine says:

    I made this last night….because we were missing you guys. It came out just as I remembered. I measure Chuck’s opinion on dinner by his focus…and last night he said nothing until he finished his plate and took a breath and said simply “really good babe” It was a triumph. One question: was I supposed to do something with the mushroom water or was the reserve for good overall kitchen practice?

  3. Christine says:

    OK…I just re-read the recipe….and you were very clear….oops, missed that step. Warning: take heed when trying to cook with a blackberry.

    • fignatius says:

      Haha! I was all ready to go back and revise the recipe, as that is something I would totally do – tell you to reserve something and never mention it again…I just imagined you finishing dinner and looking at the mushroom water and saying, “well, what the hell am I supposed to do with this?!”

      Heed the warning, readers! Careful when using your mobile device as a cookbook!

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