Braised Lamb Shanks with Parmesan-Chive Grits

Since I shared a dessert from my sister’s birthday diner last week, I would be remiss if I didn’t share the entrée which was quite outstanding.  Literally frantastic, I tell you!

I’m not sure if this recipe for braised lamb shanks qualifies as a St. Patrick’s Day meal, but I figure it’s the thought that counts!  In any event, you don’t want to miss this as it could easily be a signature dish on any upscale restaurant’s menu.  The lamb is fall-off-the-bone tender and is served on top of some of the best grits I’ve ever tasted along with a few spoonsful of a tasty sauce reduction.   All the flavors work together to deliciously complement each other.

After you brown the lamb shanks, you transfer them to a 6-quart slow cooker along with onions, carrots, and garlic that you have cooked until softened with red wine.  Then you add some crushed tomatoes, chicken broth, and cumin and let ‘er rip.  If you don’t like cumin, don’t worry because you cannot identify the cumin flavor when all is said and done.  The ingredients all meld into a complex flavor that is just wonderfully pleasing to your palate.  Your taste buds won’t care what’s in it—they’ll just want more of it!

Happy St. Patrick’s Day!

One year ago:  Favorite St. Patrick’s Day Recipes

Two years ago:  Bailey’s Irish Cream Sandwich Cookies

Three years ago:  McDonald’s Copycat Shamrock Shake

Four years ago:  Espresso Shortbread Cookies with Irish Whiskey Glaze

Five years ago:  Irish Coffee Sundaes with Caramel Whiskey Sauce and Coffee Nut Crisp

Six years ago:   Tom’s Irish Bread

Braised Lamb Shanks with Parmesan-Chive Grits

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Ingredients for the Lamb Shanks

  • 2 tbl. olive oil
  • 4 lamb shanks (about 11 or 12 oz. each), trimmed – Be sure to buy lamb shanks that are roughly the same size
  • 2 tsp. kosher salt
  • 1 tsp. black pepper
  • 2 medium-sized yellow onions (about 1 lb.), cut into 1-inch wedges
  • 2 large carrots, cut into 2-inch pieces
  • 3 garlic cloves, smashed (about 1 tbl.)
  • 1/2 cup dry red wine
  • 1 cup crushed tomatoes
  • 1/4 cup chicken broth
  • 1 tsp. ground cumin

Ingredients for the Grits

  • 1 tbl. cornstarch
  • 4 cups plus 1 tbl. water, divided
  • 1 cup uncooked stone-ground yellow grits
  • 2 1/2 oz. finely shredded Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese
  • 1/4 cup plus 2 tbl. chopped fresh chives, divided
  • 2 tbl. unsalted butter
  • 2 tsp. kosher salt

Directions

Heat 2 tablespoons olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high.  Sprinkle lamb with 2 teaspoons salt and 1 teaspoon pepper.

Cook until browned, about 3 minutes per side.

Remove lamb from skillet.  Add onions, carrots, and garlic; cook, stirring occasionally, until slightly softened, about 4 minutes.  Add 1/2 cup dry red wine; cook, until mostly evaporated, about 3 minutes.

Transfer mixture to a 6-quart slow cooker.  Stir in tomatoes, chicken broth, and ground cumin.

Add lamb shanks, nestling into tomato mixture.

Cover and cook on for one hour on high; then turn setting down to low or medium low if your slow cooker has that setting until lamb is very tender, about 4 to 5 hours.

Transfer lamb shanks to a plate.  Pour cooking mixture through a wire-mesh strainer into a bowl; discard solids.  Reserve strained cooking liquid.  Set aside lamb shanks, covered.

Bring 2 cups reserved strained cooking liquid to a simmer in a small saucepan over medium. Whisk together cornstarch and 1 tablespoon water.  Whisk cornstarch mixture into cooking liquid; cook until thickened and reduced by half, about 12 minutes.  Set sauce aside; keep warm.

Bring 4 cups water to a boil in a medium saucepan.  Whisk grits into boiling water; cook, whisking constantly, until smooth, about 45 seconds.  Return to a boil; cover and reduce heat to medium-low.  Cook until tender, about 20 minutes.  Whisk in Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese, 1/4 cup chopped fresh chives, unsalted butter, and 2 teaspoons kosher salt.

Divide grits among 4 shallow bowls.  Top each with a lamb shank; spoon sauce over top, and garnish with 2 tablespoons chopped fresh chives.

Fran’s Notes

For those following a gluten free diet, the meal is naturally gluten free as long as you use corn grits that have been processed in a dedicated facility.  Corn grits are gluten free; but, if they haven’t been processed in a gluten-free facility, there could be cross-contamination.

Source:  A recipe, slightly adapted, from the February 2018 issue of Southern Living

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