Sweet and Sour Lamb Shanks

Sweet & Sour Lamb Shanks

When most of us think of lamb, we think of a Rack of Lamb, or Lamb Chops, or Irish Stew. But lamb is so underrated because when lamb is old, it becomes mutton and that is not lamb at its best.

Spring lamb is almost sweet – not in a sugary sense – but in a fresh, grassy meadow way. This recipe takes advantage of what Italians call “agrodolce” or sweet and sour flavoring. Because lamb shanks can be a little tough, they need and thrive in long, slow cooking. This tenderizes the shanks and lets the seasoning permeate the meat for a delicious dinner!.

Serve with polenta, garlic mashed potatoes or your favorite rice to be able to drink in all the wonderful juices….delizioso!

Sweet & Sour Lamb Shanks 

  • 4 lamb shanks, approx. 1 lb. each (meat pushed down so bone sticks out)
  • 1/2 tsp. salt plus more to taste
  • 1/4 tsp. freshly ground black pepper, plus more to taste
  • 3 Tbsp olive oil, divided
  • 2 medium yellow onions, cut in half and sliced into 1/4″ half moons
  • 1 Tbsp. chopped fresh rosemary (or 1-1/2 tsp. dried rosemary, crushed)
  • 2 large garlic cloves, finely chopped
  • 1 c dry white wine
  • 3 Tbsp. honey
  • 3 Tbsp. balsamic vinegar

Preheat oven to 325. Season the lamb shanks with salt and pepper. In a large, heatproof casserole, heat 1-1/2 Tbsp. olive oil over high heat. Brown 2 of the lamb shanks until a nice crust forms. Turn them occasionally so they brown evenly on all sides. This will take about 10  minutes. Set aside and repeat with the other 2 shanks using the remaining 1-1/2 Tbsp. oil.

Remove the last 2 shanks. Pour of all but about 2 Tbsp. of the fat. Add the onions and cover. Let cook, stirring occasionally, until onions soften, about 5 minutes. Uncover and continue to cook, stirring occasionally, until onions are a nice golden brown, approximately 5 minutes longer. Add rosemary and garlic, stir and cook 1 minute. Add the wine and stir up all the brown bits from the bottom of the pan (deglaze). Return the lamb to the casserole and cover tightly.

Bake until the lamb is very tender, about 1-3/4 to 2 hours. Transfer the lamb to serving platter and cover loosely with foil. Skim off any fat from the surface of the onions in the casserole. Place the casserole over  medium heat and add the honey. Cook, stirring often, until the onions are glazed and the cooking liquid is reduced, about 6 minutes. Stir in the balsamic vinegar. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

Serve by spooning the glazed onions and juices over the lamb.

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