For many families, Christmas Eve dinner is the main food event of the season—because, truth be told, the presents steal the show on Christmas Day. This one-stop-shop recipe has everything you need to get festive with your friends and family, from a showstopping main (red wine–braised lamb shanks) to spicy, can’t-stop-eating-them roasted potatoes to perfectly cooked carrots and peas. The real twist: a minty crème fraîche that takes the classic lamb-and-mint pairing to new heights. And should a couple of extra guests show up, you can transform this meal into an entirely different but equally delicious, shepherd’s pie—easy as pie.

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Wine-Braised Lamb Shanks with Mint Crème Fraîche

Recipe from the Tasting Table Test Kitchen for Crate and Barrel

Yield: 4 to 6 servings

Prep Time: 40 minutes, plus resting time

Cook Time: 3 hours and 55 minutes

Total Time: 4 hours and 35 minutes, plus resting time


For the Wine–Braised Lamb Shanks:

¼ cup olive oil

4 large (4 pounds) lamb shanks

Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste

4 celery stalks, chopped

2 large carrots, peeled and chopped

1 large yellow onion, peeled and chopped

4 thyme sprigs

3 rosemary sprigs

2 bay leaves

¼ cup tomato paste

2 cups red wine

1 cup chicken stock

For the Carrots and Peas:

3 tablespoons unsalted butter

4 large (1¼ pounds) carrots, peeled and cut into ½–inch cubes

⅓ cup water, more if necessary

Kosher salt, to taste

4 cups frozen peas

Freshly ground black pepper, to taste

For the Mint Crème Fraîche:

½ cup (4 ounces) crème fraîche

2 tablespoons mint, finely chopped

2 teaspoons lemon zest

1 teaspoon thyme leaves, finely chopped

1 garlic clove, zested

Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste

Pea shoots, for garnish

For the Spicy Lemon–Roasted Potatoes:

4 medium (2 pounds) potatoes—washed, scrubbed and cut into 1–inch cubes 

¼ cup olive oil

1 tablespoon lemon zest

1 teaspoon rosemary leaves, finely chopped

1 teaspoon thyme leaves, finely chopped

½ teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes

2 garlic cloves, zest

Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste


1. Make the lamb shanks: Preheat the oven to 325º. In a large, heavy-bottomed pan, heat the olive oil over high heat. Season the lamb shanks with salt and pepper, and add the lamb shanks to the pan. Sear the shanks to a dark–brown color all the way around, 12 minutes. Remove the seared lamb shanks from the pan and lower the heat to medium.

2. Add the celery, carrots and onions, and sweat until barely tender, 5 minutes. Add the thyme sprigs, rosemary sprigs and bay leaves and cook for 5 more minutes. Add in the tomato paste and stir constantly to let the tomato paste caramelize but not burn, 5 minutes. Pour in the red wine and bring to a simmer; cook out all the alcohol but don't let the liquid reduce, 3 minutes. Add the chicken stock and remove from the heat. Add the lamb back to the pot, cover with a lid and braise in the oven until fork tender, 3 hours. Pull the lamb out of the oven and allow to rest for 15 minutes before serving.

3. While the lamb is braising, make the carrots and peas: In a large sauté pan over medium heat, melt the butter. Add the carrots and water and season with salt and pepper to taste. Sauté the carrots until tender but not mushy, 7 to 10 minutes. Add the peas and stir until completely warmed through, 4 to 5 minutes. The water should be mostly evaporated, and whatever is left will emulsify with the butter in the pan to form a sauce.

4. Make the mint crème fraîche: In a medium bowl, combine all of the mint crème fraîche ingredients. Whisk the mixture as you would whipped cream, until the mixture has thickened but not broken, 1 to 2 minutes. Use immediately or reserve for later. Transfer the vegetables to a large bowl, top with a large dollop of the mint crème fraîche, then garnish with the pea shoots.

5. Make the spicy lemon–roasted potatoes: Once the lamb is done and out of the oven, turn up the oven to 400º. In a large bowl, add all the roasted potato ingredients and mix well. Spread the potatoes out evenly on a baking sheet and roast until soft, 15 minutes. Use a spatula to toss the potatoes 2 to 3 times along the cooking process. Turn up the oven to 500º and roast the potatoes until the outsides are crispy, 10 minutes. Serve on a platter immediately, along with the lamb shanks and veggies.

Crate and Barrel provided the product featured here and sponsored this post.

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