A good friend of mine asked for a recipe that she could cook for a date last week. I mentioned something along the lines of some braised short ribs or maybe lamb shanks because you can get everything together and it’s essentially ready (good entertaining idea). She wanted the braised lamb shank recipe. I jotted it down and emailed it on over to her. She made it and they both loved it. This is kinda that moment when I realized it might possibly be a good idea to make this myself and put it up on the site for you guys.
It’s actually rally easy to make but has tons of different flavors that end up working together as the lamb braises. For example, I’m not a fan of olives. At all. However, when you chop up some spicy Sicilian marinated olives and braise them in a rich tomato sauce with Marsala wine and capers, it adds a boat load of flavor. And get this, you don’t taste olives at all. Yay!
I decided to make it for Valentines Day this past Sunday. Not necessarily because it was V-Day, but that I was able to put it in the slow cooker. I had a 3 1/2 run planned and Dwight had a 5 1/2 run planned….. In 20 degree weather. We were going to be cold, tired, hungry and worthless when we got back to the house. I figured that there was going to be almost nothing better than a big giant braised lamb shank in a rich tomato sauce over some Parmesan polenta when we got back. Oh, well maybe a beer, but you guys get the point 😉
Couple quick notes on what I do sometimes:
If you only get 4 lamb shanks, there will be some leftover sauce. I like to buy some ground lamb so that I can make a lamb bolognese sauce with it and put over some wide noodle pasta.
If you are going to make this in the slow cooker. Make the recipe all the way up to the “place in the oven” part. This is when you are either going to put everything in the slow cooker or if you have my super awesome Cuisinart multi-cooker, you have made everything in there and you just set on low for at 4-6 hours.
Sicilian Braised Lamb Shanks
- 4 - 6 lamb shanks, really depends on size of them and how much sauce you want for each shank
- 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
- 1/4 cup tomato paste
- 2/3 cup spicy marinated Sicilian olives or Greek ones are fine too
- 4 tablespoons capers, washed and drained
- 4 peperoncini (marinated red peppers), well drained and chopped or I also like pappadew peppers, those are from South Africa
- 1 28-ounce can of crushed tomatoes
- 1 small yellow onion
- 1 teaspoon dried oregano leaves
- 2 bay leaves,
- 3-4 sprigs of fresh thyme
- 1 tablespoon sugar
- 2 cups Marsala
- Salt and freshly ground black pepper
- 4 cups of water
- 1 cup of polenta
- 1/2 cup freshly grated parmesan
- 1 tablespoon butter
- Kosher salt
- Preheat your oven to 350F and heat a large heavy Dutch oven pot to medium-high heat with some olive oil.
- Season the lamb shanks with salt and pepper. Start searing the lamb shanks in batches. It takes me about 5 minutes on each side to get a good color.
- While the lamb is searing, chop the onion and other veggies. I like to chop the olives, capers and peppers together.
- Once the lamb has some good color, remove them all from the pot and put in the veggies. Saute for about 5 minutes. Add in the tomato paste and saute for about a minute and then add in the marsala wine, tomatoes, herbs and the lamb shanks. Stir and season with salt. Cover and put in the oven for 2 hours.
- When it's tender and you are ready to eat, make the polenta by bringing the water to a boil, stir in the polenta, once it starts to thicken add in salt, butter and the cheese. Taste and adjust the seasoning.