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Lamb Shanks en Papillote with Leeks, Carrots, Rosemary, and Orange

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Serves 4

  • by Molly Stevens from Fine Cooking
    Issue 110

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.

  • 4 medium leeks (white and light-green parts only), halved lengthwise, washed, and cut into 1-1/2-inch lengths
  • 4 medium carrots, halved lengthwise and cut into 1-1/2-inch lengths
  • 4 (2-1/2-inch) sprigs fresh rosemary
  • 4 (2-1/2- to 3-inch) strips orange zest (use a vegetable peeler)
  • Crushed red pepper flakes
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 4 lamb shanks (about 1 lb. each), trimmed 
  • 1 Tbs. extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1/2 cup dry vermouth or dry white wine
  • 1-1/2 Tbs. unsalted butter, cut into 4 slices

Position an oven rack in the lower third of the oven and heat the oven to 300°F.

Arrange four 16x16-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.

Serving Suggestions

For dessert, serve a simple Apple Crisp with Pecans & Orange with a scoop of vanilla ice cream.
 

nutrition information (per serving):
Calories (kcal): 420; Fat (g): 16; Fat Calories (kcal): 140; Saturated Fat (g): 6; Protein (g): 41; Monounsaturated Fat (g): 7; Carbohydrates (g): 19; Polyunsaturated Fat (g): 1; Sodium (mg): 440; Cholesterol (mg): 145; Fiber (g): 3;

Photo: Scott Phillips

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.

made this for dinner last night, and loved the flavors. The meat was falling off the bone, and the juices were delicious. I will add a little more of the wine and orange zest for the next try. Thank you!

Still one of my favorites. I put it over garlicy mashed cauliflower - amazing. I actually substitute sweet vermouth for white; gives it a bit more rich flavor. On a cold rainy night, very hard to beat.

I frequently make lamb shanks Provencale over two days and Jean George's rack of lamb, both fantastic, but this one is just great and so easy to prepare. Twenty five minutes of easy prep and then just put it in the oven. Fantastic!

I've been so married to MS's lamb shanks in Fine Cooking #84 (garlic & vermouth) and nothing has ever supplanted it. However, I'm giving this one five stars in anticipation.....it has everything wonderful going for it! I especially like the prep notes. I can just see this on a large platter with admiring lamb-lovers all around the table!

This recipe is incredible! I served it with the creamy mashed potato recipe from Fine Cooking but it would have been fine on its own.

I made this for a dinner party - plenty food, innovative, easy (as it was all done ahead of time), and meat just fell off the bone. It was tasty but I might try to inject a bit more flavour next time. I served it with a scoop of mash potato and a scoop of sweet mash potato - really nice coupling. Will try again!

This was delicious--great flavor, but not a quick recipe if you consider preparing the shanks.

This was absolutely delicious! My family just loved it. I will make this again for sure!

Like the other contributors, I found this to be a wonderful dish and I will use it over brown basmati rice when I cater a dinner for a friend and his guests. The second time I made this I added more orange rind, more of the pepper flakes, and more of the rosemary to make the flavors jut a bit more pungent. Either way, this is definitely a keeper.

I can't cook but followed this to the letter and everyone loves me! Meat just fell off the bone.

Agree with other review - outstanding! My lamb shanks were about a pound each as the recipes calls for and they were definitely "fall off the bone" tender. I thought the vegs got a bit overcooked so I would use larger pieces next time and maybe only 2 hours cooking time. I made one tiny change - I added a 1/2 clove garlic to each packet - gotta have garlic! Served with polenta (there's a recipe for baked polenta on this site - it's easy and comes out perfect.) It was wonderful; definitely a keeper!

Don't know where to start. This was such a skillfully developed recipe. You can't imagine how well until you take that first bite. The balance of spice and savory, with the kiss of orange was just amazing. The lamb was fall off the bone tender. We've done lamb many ways over 33 years but this was the best lamb dish we ever ate. I would have liked more texture to the veggies but that may have been us not cutting large enough pieces. However, the flavor of the veggies was killer. Do not omit the orange rind. Even a small piece will make a difference and it is subtle. We did it with mashed spuds, although I'd prefer polenta but a certain red head won out. Follow to the letter is my advice! We had large shanks (two weighed in before trimming at 3.5 pounds) and they were perfect at 2 1/2 hours. I trimmed very aggressively, and followed the advice of cutting the tendons at the top bone so the shank came out looking "frenched". Also, I used a young Chardonnay and not Vermouth in the cooking liquid. I know, this is long winded but I am trying to get you to try it!

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