Braised Lamb Shanks

Lamb Shank 3In a previous post, I’ve mentioned that when I was a boy, a young goat was the meat of choice for our Easter dinner. Goat, however, was to be replaced by Spring lamb but even its reign was cut short, since my siblings weren’t at all enamored of it. As a result, Mom switched to serving some sort of roast for our holiday meal, reserving lamb for other, not so special, nights. (Sorry that I cannot be more specific but, as I’ve also mentioned before, my attention during holiday meals was always fixated on the platter of ravioli.) For those non-holiday dinners, she would serve lamb for the 3 of us and some other dish for my siblings. Lamb shanks were most often served for no other reason, I thought, than they were so easy to prepare. Remember, she had another dinner to cook for my siblings.

Although I don’t have Mom’s recipe in written form, I know it well. We spoke of it often and she was delighted to hear that I would be serving lamb shanks for dinner. It turned out that, as much as Dad and I enjoyed lamb, Mom was crazy about it. She’d rather make 2 meals than go without her lamb.

Today’s recipe is pretty much all Mom. I did make a couple of adjustments, though. Namely, Mom used red wine and I use white with a little sherry vinegar. Then, too, for today’s recipe, I used a slow cooker and Mom’s was nowhere near large enough for lamb shanks. If that’s you or you don’t like slow cookers, this dish can just as easily be made in the oven or on the stove top. Instructions to do so follow the recipe below.

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Whether you’re celebrating Passover or getting ready for Easter, the Bartolini Clan and I wish you a very Happy Holiday.

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Lamb Shank 2*     *     *

Braised Lamb Shanks Recipe

Ingredients

  • 2 lamb shanks (See Notes)
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 2 medium carrots, roughly chopped
  • leaves and stalks from the top of a celery heart, about 1 cup
  • 1 onion, sliced
  • 6 cloves of garlic, smashed, separated
  • 4 sprigs of rosemary
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 cup white wine (Mom used red wine)
  • 2 tbsp tomato paste
  • 3/4 cup sherry vinegar (Mom didn’t use any vinegar)
  • vegetable stock (See Notes) (Mom used her chicken stock)
  • salt & pepper to taste
  • lemon zest for garnish, optional (See Notes)

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Lamb Shank Braise*     *     *

Directions

  1. In a large fry pan, heat the olive oil over med-high heat.
  2. Add 2 smashed garlic cloves and sauté until golden. Remove the garlic and discard. (See Notes).
  3. Season the lamb shanks with salt and pepper and place them into the pan, browning them on all sides. This could take anywhere from 10 to 15 minutes.
  4. Remove and reserve the lamb shanks.
  5. Place all the vegetables into the pan, season with salt and pepper, and sauté until some color is achieved.
  6. Add the tomato paste and cook until fragrant and its color deepens, 2 to 3 minutes.
  7. Remove the mixture from the pan and place into the slow cooker, along with the garlic, rosemary, bay leaf, and sherry vinegar.
  8. Use the white wine to deglaze the pan and then add it to the slow cooker. Season with salt & pepper.
  9. Place the lamb shanks into the pot and add enough vegetable stock so that half of the shanks are submerged. Cover the slow cooker. (See Notes)
  10. Cook on low for 8 hours, turning over the shanks about every 90 minutes. (See Notes)
  11. Remove meat and cover while the liquids are strained and the sauce prepared. (See Notes)
  12. Serve, garnished with lemon zest, and with the sauce on the side.

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For those without a slow cooker

Instead of using a fry pan, brown the shanks and sauté the vegetables in a Dutch oven or heavy bottom pot with a lid. Follow the recipe and place everything into the pot. Add enough vegetable stock to submerge 2/3 of the shanks. Bring to a boil over med-high heat and cover. At this point, you can:

  • Leave the pot on the stove, reduce the heat to a soft simmer, and cook for 90 to 120 minutes. Meat should be nearly falling off of the bone. Turn over the shanks occasionally.
  • Place the pot into a pre-heated 250˚ F (120˚ C) oven and cook for 3 hours. Turn over the shanks occasionally.

Serve as indicated in the recipe above.

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Lamb Shank 4*     *     *

Notes

Be sure to remove any excess fat and as much gray skin as you can. Rather than show you how I did it, you can see a pro do it HERE. It’s not the most thorough set of photos but they will give you a better idea than mine would have. (Work for food? Applications are now being accepted for a photographic assistant.)

If at all possible, make you own vegetable stock and use the flavors that you will use to braise the lamb shanks. One or two days before you cook the shanks, place one onion (quartered), 2 celery stalks (roughly chopped), 2 carrots (roughly chopped), 2 cloves of garlic (smashed), 2 sprigs of fresh rosemary, a few sprigs of fresh parsley, 1 bay leaf, and 6 or 7 cups of water into a medium sauce pan. Over med-high heat, bring the contents to a boil, then reduce to a low simmer. I let mine simmer for 2 hours and got a full quart of vegetable stock. I did not use any salt nor pepper in this stock so that I could better control both seasonings during the braising process.

Because less liquid evaporates from a slow cooker, less braising liquid is needed than when a Dutch oven is used to braise on the stove top or in the oven.

Using smashed garlic cloves to flavor the cooking oil is something Mom did all the time. It’s especially useful when sautéing vegetables, giving them garlic flavor without having pieces of garlic in the dish.

If you haven’t got 8 hours to wait for dinner, you can reduce the cooking time by setting the slow cooker’s setting to “High”. As a general rule, one hour of cooking on “High” is worth 2 hours on “Low”.

A few months ago, Chef Michael Symon mentioned that he uses citrus zest as a garnish when he serves braised meats. I decided to give it a try and, since then, I’ve used orange zest on beef cheeks and lemon zest on harissa chicken and today’s lamb shanks. In all cases, the zest added a bit of freshness to the dish that I liked very much.

Once you’ve strained the liquids and removed the fat, you can:

  • serve the sauce as-is;
  • reduce it and serve; or,
  • if needed, use a thickening agent —I used arrowroot — to make gravy.

No matter how you finish the sauce, be sure to taste and adjust its seasoning as needed.

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It’s déjà vu all over again …

CresciaSince I’ve shared a lamb shanks recipe for Easter dinner, why not share a bread recipe, as well? Today’s blast from the past will take you to my post for the Easter bread of Le Marche, the ancestral home of the Bartolini side of my family. Braided and loaded with cheese, this bread will fill your kitchen with an irresistible aroma while it bakes. Be forewarned. Don’t bake this bread too far in advance of Easter, for it has a tendency to disappear. You can learn all about this crescia by clicking HERE.

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Coming soon to a monitor near you …

Harissa Roasted Vegetables PreviewRoasted Vegetables Salad with Harissa

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171 thoughts on “Braised Lamb Shanks

  1. John, that is a gorgeous leg of lamb! My mother-in-law asked my husband and I to take over the Easter meal this year. We’ve been planning on lamb. Now I think I’ll plan on your mother’s recipe. Thanks.

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    • Thanks yo so much. i consider it an honor every time someone follows on our recipes, particularly for a holiday meal. I hope you enjoy it as much as we do and have a wonderful holiday with your family.

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  2. It’s nearly dinner-time here in Sydney town and I’m very hungry and needing to get off my arse and cook dinner. And then I saw the lamb shanks! My favourite especially now as our weather has cooled and the days are so much shorter. I just love shanks; they’re so full of flavour and the meat just falls from the bone. I’ve actually never tried cooking them with vinegar so I’ll be sure to try your version – maybe even as soon as this Easter. Happy Easter to you and your family, John xx

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    • After all the stress and strain of throwing Archie’s fantastic party, not to mention that amazing cake, if you want to sit on your arse, Charlie, I say go right ahead. You deserve it.
      Lamb shanks are a favorite of mine, too, and, like you, I serve them to usher in the change of seasons. Mom used red wine and I like them cooked that way, too. A number of years ago, I ran across a recipe for pot roast that used vinegar. That recipe is long gone but I tried it with shanks. It was too much with red wine, so, I tried white wine. It was still a bit strong so I used sherry vinegar instead of red wine and liked the results. The lemon zest is came into the recipe recently and I really like it. It’s a great accent.
      I hope you all have a wonderful Easter, Charlie.

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  3. Gorgeous! I love lamb shanks – an under used meat and they’re great slow cooked in a clay pot. Will be doing something similar for Easter with Greek “mountain” herbs (mostly oregano and thyme) with lots of lemon juice. Happy Easter!

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    • Thank you. Your method of cooking shanks sounds wonderful. Since lemon zest taste so good, I bet lemon juice works very well, too, as does the “mountain herbs.” I hope you all have a Happy Easter.

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    • Thanks, Marie. I’ve never cooked a leg of lamb so I really do wish you luck. I hope you’ll blog about it. I’d love to hear how you prepared it. Well, I’d like to hear maybe a word or two about how Niko and Angel spent their Easter, too. 🙂
      I hope you all enjoy a wonderful Easter, Marie.

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    • Thanks, Nell. Yes, their price keeps rising and I don’t make them nearly enough as I would like. That’s OK. It makes them all the more special when we do prepare them. 😉

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  4. Oh, I was sold as soon as I saw that gorgeous lead-in photo of the lamb barely holding on to the bone! Lamb shanks are one of my absolute favourite dishes John… and perfect for this cooler weather that has begun! I can’t wait to try your recipe, along with the lemon zest to finish – delicious! Wishing you and the Bartolini clan a very Happy Easter.

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  5. Lamb shanks are a particular favorite of mine. These look very good. I like the idea of a citrus garnish. I’ve never used a slow cooker for them but rather do an oven braise. Ever do them in a pressure cooker? It’s the next technique I want to master.

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    • Thanks, Dave. We’re in agreement about lamb shanks. I love them! I’ve been debating buying a pressure cooker because they’ve always intrigued me. Right now, though, no more things for my kitchen until I get it better organized. It’s long overdue.

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  6. Oops! Forgot this was coming up and used the two shanks in the freezer for lunch today! This is a lovely recipe which I was about to duplicate ‘my way’ anyway and ran out of time – thus made teriyaki style and did cook in the oven: again ‘impatient’, went for about 160 C for about 2 1/2 hours to have the meat absolutely gooey and falling off the bone! So have to get a new pair of gorgeous shanks and follow suit your way 🙂 ! Thank you and I have always used white wine also or that + verjuice [fits in with your vinegar!!]. Am looking forwards to your vegetables . . . Meanwhile, tho’ I have never celebrated Easter, may I wish you and all those on line the very happiest and most relaxed of holidays, during which I hope to get an awful lot of work done, whilst watching a very handsome young Prince moving thru’ the routines of his first Royal visit here 🙂 !

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    • I’m sure your method of preparing shanks is delicious, Eha. I have to get some verjuice and give it a try. I like an acidic note in braised meats. The Royals sure are making a splash Down Under and the Little Prince couldn’t be more cute. What a life that lies before him!
      Have a great weekend, Eha.

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  7. I just love the way a shank looks on a plate, it’s so prehistoric (read Fred Flintstone) and elegant at the same time! I’ve only started to love lamb since our trip to Morocco but it’s extremely expensive here so I’ve only ventured on making lamb Popsicles (frenched) but the were damn good. I love the addition of the citrus zest, very clever.
    I’m baking that Easter bread today (one for Friday and one for Sunday, two different dinner parties). I can hardly wait to smell the aroma in the house while it bakes.
    Hope you have a wonderful Easter too John.

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    • Thanks, Eva. Yes, a cooked shank does look like something Fred would have eaten. Lamb has gotten more expensive here, too. Luckily, a new shop opened near the poultry place I pointed out to you. They’ve both goat and lamb at good prices. I was there for the grand opening and will have to go back to see if the prices and supply are for everyday or just for the opening. I plan to make a crescia, too. I just love how it smells in the oven. I would have a hard time baking 2 loaves without being able to taste either one. You’ve got more will-power than I. 🙂 Have a wonderful time at the dinner parties and I hope you and JT have a very happy Easter.

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          • Make sure you give it some space in the bag because, believe it or not, it still rises until it goes into suspension. Thaw in the top shelf of your refrigerator (top shelf is the warmest) and when entirely thawed, bring to room temperature and allow at least 20 minutes more at room temperature. I freeze my Naan dough all the time!

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  8. Heavenly! John, we love lamb shanks and usually use red wine too so will have to try your white wine and vinegar option next time.
    Have a wonderful happy Easter too John. Give Max an extra big smooch on his head from me.
    🙂 Mandy xo

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  9. That photo of your lamb shank with the lemon zest sprinkled over the top…gorgeous John! It’s opened up my tummy, and you know I haven’t been eating much lately. And then that photo with the half eaten lamb shank, that just made me swoon! I love lamb and I cannot wait for Easter lunch. I’m hoping for good weather so that my brother will make some on the BBQ – my favourite! I would gladly assist you with your photos John for some of your grub, but you’re doing such a beautiful job that I might disappoint you. I’ve been reading all your posts by the way and man do I wish you lived close by! 🙂 Happy Easter to you and yours John, and a special hug to Zia. xoxo

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    • Thanks, Lidia. How good to see you again! That little sprinkle of lemon zest is just wonderful. You really must try it, no matter how you prepare the shanks. We’re supposed to have relatively nice weather for Easter Sunday, so, maybe you will, too. Grilled lamb sounds wonderful for Easter lunch. My Dad grilled no matter what the weather was doing. If he wanted his meat barbecued, nothing would stop him. I remember seeing him wearing an old trench coat by the barbecue during a rain storm, fighting the wind and rain with an umbrella in one hand and working the grill with the other. I hope your brother has better luck — or more sense — than that. 🙂
      I hope you and your girls have a wonderful Easter, Lidia. I’ll be sure to pass along your greetings to Zia. Buona Pasqua!

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  10. I know exactly how your mom felt John! Neither of my children [even now as adults] are particularly fond of lamb. I’ve mainly reserved it for ordering out, when they’re not around or just like your mom…making two meals! However, this slow cooker method you’re providing does simplify the 2 entree meal. Thanks for sharing your method…maybe now I can have my lamb [more often] and eat it too! Happy Easter 🙂

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    • Yes, I can see how you would understand Mom’s plight, Nancy. Worse yet for her, Dad was only home for dinner 2 nights each week, so, it was a big deal when everything aligned for her and she could prepare lamb. What I love most about the slow cooker is that my oven remains free. The Sunday I made these shanks I, also, baked bread for the dinner and made a last minute run to the store. I would never leave the house with something in the oven and I certainly couldn’t bake anything. It really is a convenient little appliance.
      Have a wonderful Easter, Nancy!

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  11. Your shanks look delicious!! Like your mum, I would also make two meals if it meant I got to eat lamb. FOr me Easter Sunday wouldn’t be the same without lamb in the weber and thankfully this year will be the same.
    Buona Pasqua to you and your family

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    • You’re not the first person to mention grilling lamb for Easter. Chops are the only cut of lamb that I’ve grilled. Maybe I should follow your lead and expand my horizons a bit. I bet your lamb is delicious. And a Buona Pasqua to you and yours, as well. 🙂

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      • Chops! I do love chops but you have to grill a garlic and rosemary stuffed leg of lamb…the smell will drive you wild while cooking…or lamb shoulder cooked slowly on the grill in a stock bath omg it is so good! 🙂

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        • Oh, yes. I am very familiar with that aroma. Rosemary and garlic are pretty much the standard seasonings for lamb for us, though not stuffed. You really have me thinking about preparing one when I go back home. There are so many dishes I want to cook with Zia and so little time.And the lamb shoulder in a stock bath sounds wonderful! Thank you so much for the suggestions.

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  12. My slow cooker and I have only got closer over the year, but I have yet to try cooking meat in it in this way. I love this idea John! My husband believes lamb should be extremely plain, but I can see this dish winning him over. The citrus sounds like a great touch, I’m a big fan of zest. Happy Easter!

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    • If you’re a zester, then by all means try it with braised meats, in general, and with shanks, in particular. You’ll love the “pop” it gives the meat. If you’re at all concerned about your Husband’s reaction, try cutting the amount of vinegar used. Taste the sauce braising liquid midway through cooking to see if more is needed.Hopefully, you’ll find that medium ground where the tastes of both of you can be satisfied. I hope you and your family have a wonderful Easter!

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  13. Your mother was an angel and a saint rolled into one – two dinners at once?! Well done Sgnora Bartolini! I adore lamb and lamb shanks seem to me to be oh so special as you get a whole little mini leg all to yourself 🙂 Your recipe is fabulous and when I am in Englad and can get lamb shanks (as opposed to pork shanks here in Andalucia) I’ll be making it. We’re having lamb on Easter Sunday with my family, don’t think it will be shanks, probably a leg, but we will raise a glass to you and Zia and wish you a Buona Pasqua!

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    • Thanks, Tanya. Mom certainly was special and her holiday meals were out of this world! I’ve never roasted a leg of lamb before and it looks like this won’t be the year either. One day. How nice that you made it back to England in time to spend Easter with your family. Although I’ve nothing special planned for Easter, cocktail hour won’t go unnoticed. I’ll be sure to toast you all — maybe twice. 🙂
      Buona Pasqua to you all, Tanya.

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  14. Terrific dish! I’m with your mom — I love lamb. And lamb shanks might be the most flavorful cut there is. I haven’t made this dish in ages, but mine is pretty similar to yours. I usually braise in the oven (my slow cooker is stored in the basement, and it’s easier to turn on the oven rather than haul that thing up!) and stick some aluminum foil over the pot before I put the lid on. I get a better seal that way, and less evaporation. I often include some roast mushrooms when I make veggie stock — they add a nice depth of flavor. Great recipe. Happy Easter!

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    • See? This is precisely why my slow cooker is on my kitchen table, John. I’ve no room for it anywhere else but in the basement. Once it goes down there, I’ll likely never use it again — and I do enjoy using it. It affords me a freedom that I don’t have when something is in the oven. I just don’t feel comfortable leaving my home while something is in there, no matter the temperature. I will leave with something in the slow cooker, though. Thanks for the tip about mushrooms in veggie stock. I don’t know I never thought to use them. I do when I make mushroom stock for risotto. Go figure! Thanks for leaving such a great comment. I hope you and Mrs.KR have a fantastic Easter, John.

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  15. John, lamb shanks are probably the favorite meal of my beloved husband… well, he loves barbecued ribs too, and a nice T-bone steak, but lamb shanks are way up there…. Lovely meal, I would have to go the stove route, as I gave my slow cooker away during our last move. And, of course, ever since I got rid of it, recipes that are PERFECT to use it do not stop showing up in the blogosphere… but, I forgive you 😉 😉 😉

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    • Your Husband and I would get along very well, Sally. We’d both probably need a bypass eventually but we’d be the best of friends. 🙂
      I gave my slow cooker away a few of years ago and bought this one last year. I’ve been using it often ever since. I’m not comfortable leaving my house with something in the oven. With a slow cooker, I don’t worry at all when I have to leave because I’ve forgotten to buy something for dinner. (I swear that if I had any kind of memory, there’d be no stopping me!) I’m thankful for you forgiveness and promise that it will be a little while before I use it again. Have a wonderful holiday, Sally.

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  16. We had lamb shanks for dinner last night! I used a recipe that was given to me by one of my patients years ago, and has been pretty much what we use for its ease and deliciousness. Place long piece of tin foil in 9×13 pan, put in lamb shanks, quartered tomatoes, halved baby Yukon gold potatoes, large pieces cut up onion, a few baby carrots, salt and pepper all, a little garlic powder, about 1/2 cup red wine, a splash or two beef or vegetable broth, seal foil and bake about 3 hours. We love this wonderful meal in one package. Clean up is a snap.

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    • Thanks, Angeline. Your method of cooking shanks sounds wonderful! I like the idea of including potatoes in the braise. I’ve been using plastic liners for my slow cooker and, like your foil, clean up is a pleasure. They make it easier, too, to pour and strain the cooking liquids to make a sauce or gravy.

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  17. Oh, yes. Yes, this would be it. This would be exactly it! The trickiest part will be to actually find some shanks in town, but with luck the stores will have a variety of cuts this week. Anyway, E.g.’s parents are returning from a trip on Holy Saturday; we’re picking them up at the airport just before midnight. A slow-cooker meal is perfect: in case they’re too tired for Sunday supper, we can reheat it on Monday instead. Oh, and E.g. will love the cheesy bread!

    Buona Pasqua to you and your family, John.

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    • If ever you’re going to find lamb, this is the week to do so. In fact, go looking on Monday and you may find it on sale if the grocer/butcher ordered too much for Easter. I’ve found some great deals doing that. I hope you do find some shanks and enjoy this recipe. Wishing you, E.G., and her parents a wonderful Easter and visit.

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  18. I would love to be at your Easter table and dive right into that plate of lamb shank, asparagus, potato and carrot! That really is a Spring celebration on a plate, John! I have come to love lamb and have been craving it lately. Much better than goat, I think. 🙂 Wishing you and yours a very Happy Easter!

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    • Thank you so much, Betsy. You’d certainly be welcome. Funny you mention goat. That is to be my Easter dinner, now that I’ve cooked lamb shanks for this post. I’ve been consulting with Zia to learn the “Bartolini Method” of roasting goat. If all goes well, there will be a post sometime down the line.
      Thanks for the holiday wishes, Betsy, and I hope you and your family have a wonderful Easter, too.

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  19. A perfect Easter dinner John. I am so happy you posted this because cooking lamb is very new to me. I did not grow up eating lamb and the few times my English mom made lamb mint jelly was always involved and I was not too keen on it. I’ll try your recipe. I can tell it is wonderful and if your mom was willing to cook two meals just do she could have lamb it has to be delicious.

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    • You know something? I’ve never had mint jelly, with or without lamb. I know it’s traditional in many homes but that wasn’t the case where I was raised. I really should try it sometime. 🙂
      If you are going to follow this recipe, remember that both versions are shared, Mom’s and my own. Take you pick. And as I mentioned to another, if you are leery of the sherry vinegar, try using half and midway through the braise, taste the juices to see if more needs to be added. Either way, I hope you enjoy your lamb as much as we do.

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    • Happy Easter, MD. Though our groceries are featuring asparagus, I doubt if it local, though it should start appearing soon. Our farmers markets, though, won’t be open for 2 or 3 more weeks and, even then, they won’t have much to offer. By May’s end it will be a different story and I cannot wait!

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    • Thanks, Conor. I do try to share Mom’s recipes when available and mine isn’t really so different to warrant another post. I’ve every intention, though, of following you recipe. I love the sound of it and it would prove a welcome change.
      I hope you and your family have a wonderful Easter, Conor.

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  20. Your Mom was right – lamb shanks are the best! This is just mouthwatering. I’ll have to make some soon…:)
    Citrus zest on top of braised meats is really great, but I was under the impression the Italian Gremolata mix is used all over Italy. From what you wrote I guess it was probably used only in certain regions. As it combines lemon and orange zest with chopped garlic and parsley, I like it even better than just one citrus zest, though it probably would be a bit too much for this delicate dish.

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    • Thanks, Ronit. I’m very much aware of Gremolata but it wasn’t something served on our tables. I couldn’t tell you why, only that it was absent. I’ve used it with shanks before but I was afraid that doing so here would push the recipe too far from Mom’s original and, above all, I want to make sure her recipe is documented. I’ll just have to find another use for it. 🙂

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  21. I never have made lamb since my husband is convinced that he doesn’t like it. I have a feeling that I could sneak this one by him & it would be a hit. Have a happy Easter John and thank you for such great ideas.

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    • I think you’ve an appreciation of Mom’s predicament. Lamb shanks aren’t the easiest thing to disguise. I’d love to hear if you’re able to get him to try them. I hope you all have a most Happy Easter, Diane.

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  22. Your lamb shank looks great. Nice recipe, with a great blend between what your mom did and your own touches. I prefer lamb shanks sous-vide, but I may have to try them with these flavors. Buona Pasqua!

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    • Thank you, Stefan. My own version isn’t all that much different from Mom’s and didn’t warrant another post. Besides, I go back and forth, between both recipes. My recipe doesn’t have even half the nostalgia that Mom’s does. 🙂
      Gelukkige Pasen!

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      • Thanks for the wishes in Dutch, John. I’ve actually just bought lamb shanks and am going to make them for Easter dinner in a sous-vide version of your mom’s recipe 🙂 Post to follow, of course…

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    • You are very welcome. When you get down to it, all you do is sauté everything, place it in the pot, add the liquids, and let it go. It couldn’t be much easier but the results are very good.
      I hope you and yours have a wonderful Easter!

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  23. I am hoping my slow cooker is large enough. Lamb shanks appeal to me more than roast leg of lamb, for some reason, and even though I really don’t eat a lot of meat there’s something irresistible to me once I smell lamb cooking. My eye did jump directly to the roast vegetable salad that is yet to come, and I would love to try the bread recipe. You’re sure right about not making the bread too early. I have no self control with a good baked bread. Will you be with Zia this weekend? I wonder if the weather this winter has made it even harder for you to spend time together. I do hope she is doing well, and wish you both a happy Easter, John.

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    • You are so right, Debra. There’s just something about the aroma of lamb cooking. For me, that’s the worst part of using a slow cooker. Years ago, when I was working, I’d be gone all day and come home to a house that smelled wonderfully and dinner ready to be served. Now, for the most part, I’m here while the dinner cooks. Those last few hours, with the aroma filling my home, are excruciating. I know. Pity me. 🙂
      The weather does make it difficult to see Zia. Remember that I’m traveling with a dog and parrot. Any kind of car trouble and Lucy probably won’t make it. Beyond that, there are the ice covered roads. I prefer not to risk it. Normally, we have a thaw at the end of January or February and I’ll make a run for it. This year there was no thaw and she escaped, leaving after New Year’s to visit her Son in Virginia, just returning home last week. Although it’s warmer now, I’ve a trip planned in a few weeks and won’t be able to get away to see her until June. I’ve already started gathering supplies for that week’s cooking. 🙂
      Wishing you and yours a very happy Easter, Debra. It’s a “candy holiday.” Be a good Grandmother and give your girls far too much chocolate. 😀

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  24. I have never really eaten lamb – guess one of my parents did not like it.
    Those roasted vegetables look delicious. I look forward to seeing them on my screen 🙂

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    • You make a good point, Colline. There are some traditional Italian dishes that weren’t served to us and, now that I’m older, I often wonder if it’s because Mom, Dad, or a Grandparent didn’t care for them. I do know, though, that both my parents loved lamb and being that I did, I got a treat whenever Mom prepared them. The roasted vegetables are another harissa dish. There’s a couple more to come, too. I love that stuff! 🙂

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  25. Tender, delectable lamb shanks cooked in a slow-cooker. What a recipe! I love sweet, succulent lamb. It is such a special treat. Your childhood food memories of family and fun continue to impress me… you were very fortunate, indeed. 🙂 I’m with you; there is nothing like a plate filled with homemade ravioli (though pass the lamb, too!). Happy holidays, John! I love that Passover and Easters are intertwining this year; it’s a fantastic way to share new holidays with friends.

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    • Thank you so much, Shanna. I agree and think it’s wonderful when the two holidays sync up like this. As bloggers, we get twice th number of tasty dishes to see. I must say, Shanna, that seeing how you’re raising your little ones, I can assure you that they will have 10 times the memories of their childhood that I do. You include them in everything and those memories will never fade. Trust me on this one. I hope you all are sharing a most wonderful Passover.

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  26. My father, my husband and my children, all,crazy about lamb and lamb shanks. Then there’s me…..with weird smell and taste issues 🙂 Boggles the mind since I grew up eating lamb in England, in fact that’s all we ate.
    Your lamb looks prefect, John and my family would thoroughly enjoy it. I also love citrus zest or just a squeeze of lemon in anything heavy or slow cooked, have you noticed how bright and wonderful a cream sauce gets if you squeeze a drop of lemon into it? Just delicious. Wishing you and your loved ones a wonderful Easter, John.

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    • Thank you so much, Nazneen. Lamb is one of those dishes that you either love or hate, there’s no gray area. Perhaps you had it so often in England that you grew tired of it. You are such a good cook that I doubt your family misses lamb in the slightest.
      You’re right about citrus zest and lemon juice. It really does brighten a dish and I’m using it more and more. I just have to figure out something to do with the increasing number of “bald” lemons I’ve got around here. 🙂

      Like

  27. Not a lamb person but your lamb shank do look delicious and one of these days I will give it a try.
    Your Mom’s method of using smashed garlic cloves to flavor the cooking oil is the same as the Chinese using smashed ginger and scallion to flavor the cooking oil, sometimes adding smashed garlic also.
    Happy Easter to you and Zia.

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    • I do hope you give these shanks a try, Norma. They are pretty good. 🙂
      The fact that Chinese cooks also flavor their oil this way is proof that the method is a good one, even if the ingredients used are different. i wonder if both cuisines developed the method independently or was it learned and carried back through the trade routes. Hmm…
      I hope you and yours have a very happy Easter, too, Norma.

      Like

    • Thank you so much but, I have to admit, now that the shanks are long gone, your Nutella and apple dinner is sounding pretty good. I’ve got the Nutella. Wanna bet that by tomorrow at this time I have some apples? 🙂

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  28. We’ll be having lamb for Easter but as we will be at Taylor’s Arm endeavouring to have some sort of a break and the weather does look like cooperating it will be the G.O. barbequing, and later when winter chill comes calling I’ll warm the city apartment and fill our stomachs for the better part of a week with slow cooked lamb shanks.Our recipes are similar, but the sherry vinegar looks like a good addition, so I’ll try that. Happy Easter to you and yours 🙂

    Like

    • Thanks, EllaDee. Good to hear that you both will be able to get away for bit at Easter. Our weather — and I hate to jinx it — may have turned a corner. I heated up the barbecue tonight and loved the smell of it all. Sometime ago, I read a recipe for pot roast that used vinegar as a marinade and again in the braising liquid. I’ve long ago lost that recipe but I do use vinegar occasionally in braises. Here, I use sherry vinegar because it is a bit lighter than red wine vinegar. Do try a bit of citrus zest, too. I think you’ll enjoy it.
      I hope you and the G.O. share a wonderful Easter — and that the weather holds. 🙂

      Like

  29. Happy Easter! I think lamb shanks are a brilliant choice for Easter dinner, yet one that’s never occurred to me. And I confess, when I saw that pool of luscious looking gravy on top of those mashed potatoes, my mouth watered. Literally. Such a beautiful meal — thank you for sharing!

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    • Thanks, Mar, for leaving such nice compliments. For quite some time, baked ham was my main course of choice for Easter. Even Max approved, having nibbled on the resting ham 2 years running. Lamb shanks, though, take me back to my childhood. There’s a whole lot of nostalgia on that plate. 🙂
      I hope you and yours enjoy a very happy Easter, Mar.

      Like

    • Thank you so much, Francesca. Is your family still with you? I hope they were able to say until Easter. To be sure, whether they’re with you, I’m sure you’re going to prepare a delicious feast. I hope you, Stefano, and the Little Princess have a wonderful Easter.

      Like

  30. All your words and pictures about lamb and baby goat makes me wish we were already Sunday… we’ll have capretto for Easter. Great two recipes in one actually: your mother’s and your own 😉

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  31. I love lamb shanks – I’m in Australia and we eat a LOT of lamb. I cook mine in the slow cooker too and I try to always do it on low and they come out perfectly every time. Like you I make a big pile of mashed potatoes and serve the lamb shank on top. It’s getting cooler here and perfect for lamb shanks.

    Happy Easter!

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    • Ah, a kindred spirit. I, too, love them and make shanks every Fall. They’re my way of getting ready for the bad weather ahead. In retrospect, I should have made them twice last Fall. 🙂
      I hope you and yours share a wonderful Easter, Maureen.

      Like

  32. Oh, dear.. once again I am slow getting around to blog reading. But I caught yours in the nick of time for Easter:) I’m not on kitchen duty this year, but I will make this for my family on the day we aren’t going out, aka Monday. I love slow cooker dishes and with the weather we’re getting (tons of new snow) this is the perfect pretty, springy but hearty dish for cooler days. Has it been snowing there or are your trees starting to bud??xx

    Like

    • You’re never late, Barb. Don’t ever think that. I, too, love slow cooker meals. I especially like using it for braises. It works perfectly for shanks and keeps the oven free for other things. The day I cooked these shanks I baked bread that afternoon — and absentmindedly forgot to include it in the shots.
      We got about an inch or so of snow on Monday and it didn’t melt until Tuesday. I’m guessing you’ve got it much worse. Our temps mow are pretty nice, not real warm but certainly well above freezing. My lilac is starting to bud, the lawns are turning green, and my neighbor has daffs blooming in her yard. I don’t want to jinx it but we may have turned the corner. And if we have, you won’t be long behind us. No matter where one lives on the continent, this is one Winter we’ll all be glad to see leave.
      I hope you and all the Smidgens share a fantastic Easter, Barb.

      Like

  33. I’m a huge lamb shanks fan and this looks fabulous – uncomplicated ingredients in a great recipe.

    We also had these growing up and when I first started cooking them years ago, I thought Mom used them because they were inexpensive (which they were back then). Not so anymore. But they are still delicious.

    P.S. Forgive me for only occasionally commented. It is something I just can’t keep up with on a regular basis, but I do visit your wonderful blog often!

    Like

    • The uncomplicated part is really a hallmark of most Bartolini recipes and traditional Italian cuisine. You’d be surprised to see Zia’s spices. Once you take away those used in baking, there aren’t many left. Things have changed with modern Italian cuisine, though. You should hear Zia when one of today’s chefs starts seasoning the dish. Let’s just say she’s not a fan. 🙂
      Don’t ever worry about failing to visit or comment. I, too, am having to cut back, though I’m not doing a good job of it. There’s more to life than blogging.

      Like

      • So true John. I’m not sure you’ve seen my post about one of my visits to Tuscany where the local caretaker was our cook. I watched over her shoulder the whole time. It was the first time I realized with such clarity that the beauty of Italian cooking is simple ingredients combined with sound methodology (i.e, it is less important which vegetables you use than how you cook them). You do so much of this simple elegance in your recipes, which is why I like your blog.

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        • First off, that is about the best compliment I’ve been paid. It’s music to my ears. You recognize the value of these family recipes and methodology. How I wish I could do as you did, staying at a villa like that. It is, for me, a dream vacation. I have the benefit of seeing how Mom’s cooking added up. I’ve been to Italy 6 times. Never once has Mom’s dish come in second and, oh, how I loved to tell her that.
          Recently, I have checked into cooking schools “over there” but much of the time is spent doing things I already know. I know how to make pasta and to cut linguine or tagliatelle by hand. For the cost, I want to come away with more than an agnolotti recipe. You may be wondering, Why was I checking?
          Psst … Don’t tell anyone … I’ll be leaving for Italy in a few weeks. More info will be forthcoming. I can say this will be an eating tour. I’ve seen all of the museums, the cathedrals, the churches, and every other site – twice. Now, with all of that out of the way, I can concentrate on what’s truly important: eating. YAY!

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          • I didn’t mean to eavesdrop, John, but couldn’t help stopping when I saw the Psst! I’m thrilled you’re going for a hanging-around-eating-and-enjoying-living-for-a-while trip – it’s just the best thing to do! Last time I went, someone asked me what I would do in Venice for three weeks and I said “eat and drink and take walks and watch the world go by” and my questioner remarked it would drive him bonkers … world’s full of diversity, eh? 🙂

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          • And thank heavens for that diversity! Not only will I get a chance to visit with family a bit on this trip, but I’ll also be able to sit in a cafe in Florence and not move all day, if I don’t want to. Bliss.

            Like

  34. Pingback: Braised Lamb Shanks | Le Marche and Food | Sco...

    • Aren’t you the lucky one? How fantastic! I’ve been invited for Easter dinner at the home of a Cousin of a friend of mine. It’s a big Italian family, very reminiscent of mine back in the day. I can’t wait!
      Happy holidays to you and yours!

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  35. Pingback: Braised Lamb Shanks | FASHION-BEAUTY-CLOTHES-GI...

  36. The meat is just falling off the bone! I would love having one of these shanks sitting in front of me right now. Delicious! Happy holiday weekend John!

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  37. Although I am not quite a fan of beef and lamb, this sure makes my mouth water, John. And cooking it in a slow cooker is a way to go; and pairing it with asparagus is perfect. Have a wonderful Easter!

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  38. Thanx-grazie, John! our American relatives arrived here 3 days ago and they’ll have “your” lamb for this Easter… 🙂 lots of joy, hope and peace – now and always… friendly thoughts & à presto! 🙂

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  39. Bonjourno John, Wishing you a blessed Easter! Your mom’s fall off the bone lamb shanks look to die for and with that gravy and topped off with the lemon zest looks and sounds amazing. I think with my boys I would need several lamb shanks or tons of side dishes to keep them out of my kitchen. Today marked the second day off for my boys from school and already they have depleted the refrigerator stock of supplies. Take care, BAM

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  40. Pingback: Braised Lamb Shanks | Italian Food & Wine |...

  41. Hope you have a wonderful Easter. Thanks for all the comments on the blog.
    We went to the Easter Vigil tonight so won’t be getting up early for church in the morning.
    Then hid plastic eggs in the dark back yard.
    Good to be with family this whole week and drive back to Pittsburgh after dinner Sunday. School on Monday, Happy to support your wonderful blog, John.

    Like

  42. What a fantastic recipe. Lamb shank can make such a lovely dish, and it surprises me that it remains one of the less popular cuts of meat (at least here in the UK). I’m sure this tasted wonderful.

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  43. I’ve never had lamb shanks! Only lamb kabobs at a Greek relative’s house for their annual Greek dinner party. Your shanks look and sound delicious!

    I’m making Thanksgiving dinner (turkey, stuffing, potatoes and gravy, etc.) today. My favorite! Typically it is an organic bone in ham, but honestly, I’m not a huge ham fan, so I went with my own favorite meal. Selfish! Ha!

    Blessings to you on this Easter Sunday, John! ~ April

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  44. Don’t lamb shanks make you feel positively prehistoric? Childish, I know, but I always think of Fred Flintstone. Whatever version, I think those look wonderful. Hope you have a lovely holiday.

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  45. I adore lamb shanks and like Michelle, that I always think of the Flintstones when I see the bone. 🙂

    I have found that as they have gotten trendy they have become so expensive! A pity. They used to be one of my favorite cheap cuts. Happy Easter.

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  46. Stunning dish John. I am a big fan of slow cooked lamb and I love the seasonings that you’ve added to this dish. Was nice seeing your variations upon your mother’s traditional recipe… I do the same with many recipes my mother used, just according to personal taste. I hope that the Bartolinis have/had a blessed and safe Easter (we’ve just finished our Easter Sunday and I’m about to head to bed!).

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  47. Oh, I love that your mum prepared two meals rather than go without her lamb. Lucky you! I can relate. I’m sure I’d do the same if my boys weren’t lamb-lovers (which thankfully they are). We especially love our shanks. For a sheep-filled country they’re strangely so expensive here, but absolutely worth the investment. Yours look beautiful, and full of flavor. The splash of sherry vinegar would cut through the richness beautifully. Shanks very much for a great post John.

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  48. Pingback: Lamb Shank and Asparagus Sous-Vide | Stefan's Gourmet Blog

  49. John, guess what we had for dinner tonight? Your lamb shanks!!!!!! I made them yesterday morning and saved them for our dinner tonight, to make this Monday super special!

    if my pictures turned out ok, I will be blogging on them next month – but for the time being, my beloved husband says: tell him I am giving this recipe two thumbs waaaay up!

    They were outstanding! (I have leftovers, thinking I’ll turn them into some type of a lamb ragu for pasta, what do you think?)

    Liked by 1 person

    • You’ve made my night, Sally! I was at the Cubs game and read the notification email for your comment. The Cubs’ win – a rarity – paled in comparison to this news. Thank you so much for letting me know. I agree that the leftovers would make a great ragu. I very much enjoy a ragu made with chunks of meat — pork, beef, veal, lamb — rather than ground. You get a great pasta and the meat makes a great secondo piatto. All you need is some grated cheese and a chunk of bread. Yum! 🙂

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  50. “Will photograph for food.” Ha! Great minds think alike–we did a post awhile ago comparing lamb braised in the oven with the same dish in the slow cooker. Tough to lose either way. This recipe sounds wonderful, but i have to say, I’d also love to sample your family’s Easter Goat. Hope you had a great holiday. Ken

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  51. Holy moly, John! This shank has left me drooling at my computer…not so good for keyboards as it turns out. I LOVE that you made it in your slow cooker. This is such a sophisticated “crockpot” meal that I could hardly believe you used the slow cooker. Your shank looks dripping with crazy amazing flavor, and I would think I was eating like a queen should I have gotten to eat at your table that day. Hope your Easter was wonderful.

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  52. Every year for Passover, I swear I am not going to make brisket. I always plan on making lamb instead. Well, there is always next year. This looks like a great recipe and everyone in my home loves lamb-except me. But I don’t eat beef anymore either. So there is no excuse. Next year I will give them some variety. This sounds great John. I hope you had a marvelous holiday!

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  53. Forgot to mention on the next post – love the idea of freezing the sauce in ice cube trays. So clever! This lamb shank looks beautiful! As you know, I love the smell of lamb as it’s cooking, but haven’t quite gotten into the flavor. That said, I’d be in heaven at your holiday meal – the smell of lamb cooking, but an alternate meal for the non-lamb eaters. Sounds perfect to me. 🙂 And I too have tried citrus zest on meats and think it’s delicious!

    Like

    • Actually, freezing harissa was a mistake. In Winter, I keep some foods frozen in my barbecue on the back porch. I mistakenly put a container of harissa out there, finding it a week later, frozen solid. It thawed fine and a friend said she was going to put some into ice cube trays. The rest is history. 🙂
      I’ve yet to try lime zest on meat but i will. If it’s as good as lemon and orange zests, it will be fantastic!

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  54. Pingback: BRAISED LAMB SHANKS, BARTOLINI STYLE | Bewitching Kitchen

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