Braised Lamb Shanks with Grits
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Lamb Shanks are one of the most popular cuts of Lamb served in restaurants all around the world. One of the reasons for that is they are so flavorful and, when prepared correctly, simply melt in the mouth with tenderness.. Our Braised Lamb Shanks with Grits recipe is a classic and traditional version that celebrates this wonderful cut of meat

The Lamb Shank is served on the bone, so the flavor of that meat is simply phenomenal. It is a cut of meat that is best cooked via a slow braise. This technique not only gets the Lamb wonderful and tender, but infuses the flavors of that wonderful braising liquid into the Lamb

How to make Braised Lamb Shanks with Grits

This is a very easy dish to make. Like most braised dishes, the flavor in the dish is developed by cooking down a combination of Vegetables, Spices, Aromatics, and Liquids into a braising stew. The Lamb Shanks then swim in that Braising Liquid over a low heat for 3 – 4 hours

This technique will slowly break down the fibers in the meat, so it becomes unbelievably tender. The braising liquids flavor will concentrate over time, and all that wonderful flavor will make its way into the Lamb. Leaving you with a rich, flavorful meal

Sear the Lamb Shanks, then start building the Braising Liquid

We highly recommend using a Dutch Oven if you can. It conducts heat better than any other pot, and given we’ll be cooking this dish on the stovetop, it will ensure the best overall cook. The first step in making our Braised Lamb Shanks with Grits recipe is to sear the Lamb over high heat. Season the Lamb Shanks well then place them in the Pot with some hot Olive Oil

Brown the Lamb Shanks on each side. If you’re cooking more than 3 we’d suggest doing this in two batches, as you don’t want to overcrowd the pot too much. Sear the Lamb Shanks for about 2 minutes on each side. This will brown the meat, which will help to seal in the juices and flavor during the braising process. We then set the Lamb aside to build the braising liquid

Braised Lamb Shanks with Grits spiced
The Braised Lamb Shanks are flavored with the most wonderful mix of spices, giving it a unique and delicious taste

Time to create the Braising Liquid

To build the Braising Liquid, add the Vegetables (the classic combination of Carrots, Celery, Garlic, and Onion) to make them lovely and tender. For our recipe we’ve added some diced Fennel to the mix too. Fennel brings a lovely, subtle aniseed flavor to the dish which contrasts well with the sweetness of the overall dish. It’s a great addition, and if you’re fans of Fennel we highly recommend it

The spices that we add to the Braised Lamb Shanks give the braising liquid a wonderful and unique flavor

This is where this dish takes a path of its own, with some truly unique flavors. We add a wonderful mixture of spices to the Vegetables of Cumin, Paprika, Sumac, All Spice, Cinnamon, and Salt. The inclusion of Cinnamon and All Spice really give this dish a unique, almost fruity like sweetness

Cumin and Paprika are very much staples of meat seasoning, but they work particularly well with Lamb. The Sumac adds a lovely Lemony flavor, which is much needed to help balance out the sweetness of the other spices. All in all, it’s a fantastic spice mixture

We then add the Braising Liquids, then braise the Lamb low and slow

The Braising liquid is created by adding Beef Broth (homemade of course, not store bought!), Red Wine (which we reduce), Tomato Paste, Canned Tomatoes, along with some Thyme and Rosemary. The Lamb Shanks are then submerged in this liquid. The lid goes on, and the slow braise begins

Lamb Shanks in Braising Liquid
Submerge the Lamb Shanks in the Braising Liquid and cook for about 3 and a half hours until cooked and tender

Lamb Shanks will take a while to break down and tenderize. We recommend checking on them every hour, turning them over each time. It will take about 3 ½ hours for the Lamb Shanks to be cooked perfectly. The Lamb will easily be able to pull away from the Shank, which is what you want

For the best result, remove the Lamb Shanks and crank the heat on the braising liquid to high. You want to reduce the liquid for another 30 minutes or so. It will be reduced by about half. The liquid will thicken and concentrate in flavor, becoming the sauce that we drizzle over the dish when it’s time to serve

This dish is deceptively filling, 1 Lamb Shank will be enough for 1 person

Even the hungriest person will be full after eating this dish, we guarantee it! The combination of the rich sauce, the wonderful Lamb Shanks, and those Creamy Grits is going to please the biggest of appetites! Which makes portioning out this recipe easy for you

If you’re cooking for 4 people, simply cook up 4 Lamb Shanks. 2 people, 2 Shanks etc. The recipe timings don’t change at all, you may just need to adjust the quantity of the ingredients slightly. Our recipe below is for 4 people, so if you’re cooking for more we’d suggest adding a little bit more of the Vegetables and liquids to ensure you produce enough sauce for everyone

As for the Grits, you don’t need a whole lot at all to fill a plate. 1 cup of Grits will easily feed 4 people. It may not seem like it when you’re pouring out the Grits before they’re cooked but trust us. Grits absorb a ridiculous amount of liquid, more than double that of what Rice needs to be cooked

For every one cup of Grits, you will need 4 cups of Liquid (Water or Broth). So, you’ll get a lot of bang for your buck from a cup of Grits

Braised Lamb Shanks with Grits and Pomegranate
Our Cheesy Grits are the perfect pairing for the Lamb Shanks. They soak up that delicious sauce and taste great

Speaking of Grits, we’re such big fans of them in this recipe

We’re huge fans of cooking dishes with Grits. They are a slept-on ingredient in many parts of the world, however, are immensely popular all over the south of the US and, of course in Europe (where it goes by Polenta, but it’s basically the same thing)

Grits absorb flavors exceptionally well, far better than Mashed Potatoes or Rice in our opinion. They require a lot more liquid to cook than Rice, therefore we highly recommend you use a Broth or Stock such as Chicken Broth or Vegetable Stock to flavor the Grits. Given the ratios are 4:1 liquid to Grits, that liquid is going to flavor your grits significantly

Add Cheese to the Grits for a beautiful flavor and texture

Furthermore, once the Grits are cooked you can add all kinds of seasonings and flavors to the dish for even more taste. Our personal favorite, like many, is adding Cheese. Cheesy Grits are a favorite of ours, we’ve even got a whole recipe on them even. We like adding a combination of Cheddar Cheese and Parmesan

Cheddar adds a nice sharpness and gives the Grits a stretchy, cheesy texture. The Parmesan Cheese is the real hero of the dish, however. It seasons the Grits with a salty, nuttiness that adds so much depth of flavor to the Grits. You don’t need to add cheese to your Grits in this dish, but we do recommend it!

Braised Lamb Shanks with Grits and Pomegranate seeds
Finish the Braised Lamb Shanks with Grits dish off with fresh Pomegranate seeds to brighten up the overall dish

Recipe Details

Servings

4 people

Prep time

10 minutes

Cooking time

4 hours

Total time

4 hours

Braised Lamb Shanks with Grits Recipe

Ingredients

  • 4 Lamb Shanks (1 per person)
  • 2 cups of Beef Broth (recipe here)
  • 2 Carrots, diced
  • 2 Celery Stalks, diced
  • ½ Fennel, diced
  • 1 Brown Onion, diced
  • 4 Garlic Cloves, diced
  • 4 sprigs of Rosemary
  • 4 sprigs of Thyme
  • 2 tsp. Cumin
  • 2 tsp. Smoked Paprika
  • 2 tsp. All Spice
  • 2 tsp. Ground Cinnamon
  • 2 tsp. Sumac
  • 2 tbsp. Tomato Paste
  • 400ml / 14 oz. Canned Tomatoes
  • 1 cup Red Wine
  • Seeds of ½ a Pomegranate
  • ½ cup Fresh Parsley, roughly chopped
  • 1 tbsp. Olive Oil
  • Salt

For the Grits

  • 1 cup of Stone Ground Grits (not instant)
  • 2 cups Chicken Broth or Vegetable Broth (recipes here)
  • 2 cups of Water
  • ½ cup Sharp Cheddar Cheese, grated
  • ½ cup Parmesan Cheese, grated
  • 1 tsp. Salt

Instructions

  1. Add the Olive Oil to a large Dutch Oven or Pot over medium / high heat. Once hot, season the Lamb Shanks with Salt then place into the pan. Brown on each side (about 2 minutes per side), then set aside
  2. Reduce the heat to medium and add the Onions, Celery, Carrots, and Fennel to the pot. Add the Garlic, Cumin, Sumac, All Spice, and Ground Cinnamon. Cook for 4 – 5 minutes until tender, stirring frequently. Add the Garlic and cook for 1 minute until fragrant, then add the Red Wine
  3. Once the Red Wine has reduced by half, add the Tomato Paste. Mix well and cook for 2 minutes, then add the Beef Broth, Thyme, and Rosemary. Bring to a boil, then drop the heat to low. Cover and simmer for 3 ½ hours turning the Lamb Shanks every hour
  4. Once the Lamb is cooked, remove from the Pot and set aside. Increase the heat to high and reduce the liquid for 30 seconds to form the sauce. Check for seasoning, then mix through the Parsley

Make the Cheesy Grits

  1. 10 minutes into reducing the sauce, begin to make the Grits by adding the Chicken / Vegetable Broth and Water into a Saucepan. Bring to a boil, then add the Grits
  2. Stir well to mix the Grits into the liquid then drop the heat to low. Cover, and cook for 20 minutes, stirring half-way through
  3. Once the Grits are cooked, add the Cheddar Cheese, Parmesan Cheese, and 2 tsp. of Salt. Mix well then serve immediately

Plating

  1. Add the Lamb Shanks back into the Sauce so they re-heat and get covered well in the Sauce
  2. Spoon individual portions of Grits out onto serving plates then add a Lamb Shank onto each plate. 1 Shank per person is more than enough
  3. Finish the plating by spooning over more Sauce. Sprinkle with Finishing Salt and ½ tsp. of Pomegranate seeds and serve immediately

Recipe Notes

The grits need to be served immediately for the best texture. They take 20 minutes to cook, so prepare them once you’ve just started reducing the sauce so everything will come together at once

It’s an Epic dish, but well worth the effort, and one of our favorite ways to enjoy Lamb Shanks. We hope you’ve enjoyed making this wonderful dish of Braised Lamb Shanks with Grits. Let us know in the comments below or connect with us on Instagram or Pinterest and show us how it went!

For more Epic Lamb dishes such as this one, head over to our Lamb Recipes here. Here are a few of our favorites

Happy Cooking!

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