Cooking

The Lamb Shank Redemption

Make this showstopping braise the centerpiece of your holiday meal
Photo: Lizzie Munro/Tasting Table
Lamb Shanks

Shanks are the Rodney Dangerfield of lamb: They just don't get no respect.

Shanks, the part of the leg (usually lamb or veal) below the knee, aren't as sexy as standing ribs or center-cut steaks. As one of the hardest-working parts of the animal, shanks aren't blessed with much juicy fat. But when handled with a bit of care, shanks can be one of the most tender, succulent meats around. Presented dramatically on the bone, they're the perfect showstopping main for Easter or Passover supper.

Ours are marinated in a garlic-and-anchovy paste (see the recipe) to amp up the umami, then blasted in a hot, dry oven (much more convenient than searing in batches). Post-roast, they're slowly braised in a wine-stock bath laced with aromatic vegetables, herbs and citrus, creating a lovely perfume to infuse the silky meat. Don't rush through building the braise (sautéing the vegetables, reducing the wine, simmering the stock)—the key to a gorgeous slow-cooked dish is coaxing out every layer of flavor.

And because the finished product can feel, well, a little rich, we suggest teaming it with a thoroughly modern gremolata, laced with fresh mint and feathery dill, plus sweet green garlic, lemon zest and addictively crunchy fried shallots.

Served atop buttery, vibrant green peas and quickly seared gem lettuces, it's a study in contrasts: lush, slow-cooked meat against fresh, bright herbs and vegetables, working beautifully in tandem to signify spring. 

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There's one more thing we love about cooking shanks, too: the marrow. Spoon the hidden prize onto toast or whisk it into the sauce with the peas and lettuce. Eat it straight it you're so inclined. Just don't let it go to waste—every part of a shank deserves to be savored.

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