Here, lamb shanks are wrapped in individual foil packets with vegetables, herbs, vermouth, and a sliver of butter and then roasted until luscious and fork-tender. Serve them as is—the vegetables cooked with the meat give you a built-in side dish—or pile them atop creamy polenta or mashed potatoes. Be sure to pour every last flavor-packed drop of cooking liquid onto the meat before serving.
From the Test Kitchen: Learn Molly Stevens’ technique for preparing lamb shanks for cooking.
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Arrange four 16×16-inch squares of heavy-duty aluminum foil on a work surface. Put one-quarter of the leeks, one-quarter of the carrots, 1 rosemary sprig, and 1 strip of orange zest on each square. Season each with a pinch of crushed red pepper flakes, salt, and pepper. Set aside.
Pat the lamb shanks dry and season generously with salt and pepper. Heat the oil in a large skillet over medium heat until shimmering hot. Working in batches if necessary to avoid crowding, brown the shanks on all sides, about 10 minutes total per batch. Transfer 1 shank to each foil square, arranging it on top of the vegetables. Draw up the edges of the foil to capture any juice, but don’t seal the packets yet.
Return the skillet to medium heat, add the vermouth, and bring to a simmer, scraping the skillet with a wooden spoon. Remove from the heat. Portion the vermouth evenly among the 4 packets, pouring it over the lamb. Dot each shank with a slice of the butter.
Fold the foil to form rectangular packets, sealing the seams tightly. Arrange the packets on a baking sheet; it’s fine if they touch but they shouldn’t overlap. Bake for 2-1/2 hours; then check for doneness by carefully opening one of the packets (watch out for the steam) and testing the meat with a fork—it should be tender and pulling away from the bone. If necessary, continue to bake for another 10 minutes and check again.
Transfer the contents of the packets to large plates or pasta bowls, surrounding the shanks with the vegetables and juice. Remove the rosemary and orange zest before serving, if you like.
For dessert, serve a simple Apple Crisp with Pecans & Orange with a scoop of vanilla ice cream.
We've made this dish several times. It's the first recipe I think to make on that first crisp, fall weekend. Sometimes we serve with a mash of some sort, sometimes we serve with bread. But always seem to find a reason to buy some good gin and make a martini with the leftover vermouth... Worth the time and effort. Love the short ingredients list.
Easy and delicious! Results in meltingly tender lamb and flavorful vegetables cooked in a super easy manner. Great special occasion dinner that looks way more complicated than it actually is. Family loves it!
I made this for a dinner party for friends tonight. I have never attempted lamb shanks before & was a little intimidated by the trimming...I had the butcher @ Whole Foods "French" the bone, but I was left to trim the fat & silver skin...did I take too much off (it might fall apart); too much on? (It will be tough!). Anyway, I trusted my instincts & got it right. The recipe itself is a breeze...didn't change a thing! Simply delicious & easy for entertaining! Scalable for more or fewer people. Great w/the oven roasted polenta on this site.
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