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Port Braised Lamb Shanks

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  • Ready in: Prep: 15 M, Cook: 3 H, Total: 3 H 15 M
  • Serves: 4
  • Complexity: medium
  • kcal: 678
Port Braised Lamb Shanks

These lamb shanks are just like what you get at high-end restaurants! Port and red wine is the key to the incredible sauce that these lamb shanks are braised in. Get discount bottles - no need to splurge on expensive wine for this!


  • 4 lamb shanks, approx. 400g/13oz each (Note 1)
  • Salt and pepper
  • 2 tbsp. olive oil, separated
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 onion, finely chopped (white, brown, yellow)
  • 1 celery stalk, finely chopped (optional, but recommended)
  • 1 carrot, finely chopped (optional, but recommended)
  • 3 tbsp. / 1/4 cup flour (35g)
  • 2 cups / 500 ml beef broth (liquid beef stock) (or sub with chicken broth)
  • 3 cups / 750 ml port (Note 2)
  • 1 1/2 cups / 375ml red wine, or more beef broth (Note 3)
  • 3 tbsp. / 1/4 cup tomato paste
  • 5 sprigs thyme or 2 tsp dried thyme
  • 3 dried bay leaves (or 5 fresh)
  • 4 stalks fresh parsley (optional)
  • Step by Step Directions

    1. Season lamb with salt and pepper.Heat 1 tbsp. oil in a Dutch oven or large heavy-based pot over high heat. Add 2 lamb shanks and cook, turning, until browned (see photo). Remove then repeat with remaining lamb.

      Turn heat down to medium. Add remaining 1 tbsp. oil, garlic, onion, carrot, and celery. Sauté for 5 minutes until onion is softened.

      Add flour. Mix into onion mixture.

      Add remaining ingredients. Mix - lumps are ok, they will dissolve while cooking.

      Add lamb back in - the meat should be mostly submerged. Bring to simmer, then turn heat down to medium-low and cover with lid.

      Simmer for 2 hours (Note 4) then remove the lid and simmer for 30 minutes.

      Remove lamb into a bowl.

      Optional: Strain sauce in Dutch oven into a bowl. Use a spoon to press into onion etc. to squeeze out all the flavorful liquid. Pour sauce into Dutch oven. (Note 5)

      Skim excess fat off the sauce.

      Increase heat to medium high and reduce liquid by half or until it thickens to a syrup consistency.

      Return lamb shanks and juices pooled in the bowl into the sauce to reheat, then serve with creamy mashed potato, garnished with parsley.

    2. Recipe Notes

      1.  Lamb shanks come in all manner of sizes and cuts. Go for lamb shanks of a suitable size per serving, bearing in mind the size of your pot and that they will shrink by about 25% when cooked. Some lamb shanks come with the bone partially cut so they bend to fit into the pot, which is helpful. My lamb shanks were about 400g/13oz each and 4 fit inside a standard Dutch oven, mostly submerged. They don't need to be fully submerged in the liquid as the steam will cook the exposed surface (as well as browning them nicely) and they should be turned while cooking.

      ALTERNATE PROTEINS: This recipe is also sensational made with beef cheeks and chunky beef ribs. It was a toss-up which version to share, but I went for shanks because I think it looks grand!

      2.  There is no need to use the expensive port and wine for this! It will taste lovely even using a discount end of line bottles which I use, however, if you do use expense bottles, then, of course, it will give it an edge. But I do not. I shop at Dan Murphy's and Aldi's for cheap bottles. I honestly believe that for slow cooked things, you can barely tell the difference whether you use expensive or discount liquor. The port I use is $10 for a 750ml/25oz bottle.

      You can use ruby or tawny port. By the time this has slowly cooked, there is not much difference between the two except that Ruby gives you a slightly redder sauce because a ruby port is redder than tawny which is a deep brown color. (ruby port is younger, tawny is aged).

    3. 3.  Using red wine instead of more beef broth gives this a slight edge in the depth of flavor of the sauce, but not much. I often make it without red wine, using more beef broth instead.

      4.  This step can be done in a 160C/320F oven (covered with foil or lid) for 2 hours covered then 30 min uncovered. Then reduce the sauce on the stove per recipe. Or cook in a slow cooker on low for 8 hours, then follow the recipe to reduce the sauce on the stove.

      5.  Straining the sauce makes it lump free. This step is optional.

      6.  This gets better overnight. To make ahead, follow the entire recipe then let cool, then refrigerate overnight in the Dutch oven. Scrape fat off surface. Reheat on the stove or @180C in the oven for 15 minutes (covered).

      7.  To make this gluten-free, omit the flour. When the lamb is cooked, remove it, then mix 2 tsp cornflour/cornstarch with 2 tbsp. water. Add to the sauce, mix and let it thicken.

      8.  This recipe is inspired by these famous Beef Cheeks in Pedro Ximenez (Spanish Sherry), a recipe by Frank Camorra, an Australian chef, and restauranteur. These beef cheeks are the signature dish at his Movida restaurants. 

      9.  Nutrition does NOT consider fat skimmed off the sauce. If you leave this overnight, you will get more fat out of the sauce.

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