The Shank Is the Way To Go


Sadly on Easter Sunday, I had no plans for breakfast, brunch, lunch or dinner. Like none. No food except for a few little gems in the refrigerator and the ramen my kids didn’t finish earlier. But I dared to invite eight people over anyway that morning while at church. I told my husband to stop by the grocery store on the way home: my big dilemma was at the meat counter. There was no doubt in my mind we were having strawberry shortcakes for desert and a radicchio/little gems/hearts of palm salad with ponzu dressing. But the meat?

Sam Stilton of the New York Times had published a great lamb meatball recipe. The lamb roast was on sale but I am not really a fan of roasts. I like a good rack now and then but timing is key. So honestly, when in doubt always go for the shank. My husband loves a slow-braised shank. Here is a simple recipe for two. Brown two shanks on the stove in a Dutch oven or cast iron pot. Let it get brown. The browner the better with lamb. Add three cloves of chopped garlic, one small shallot, chopped, four tablespoons of tomato paste, a handful of cut-up fresh tomatoes if you have them or three to four whole tomatoes from a can with their juice. Add a couple of cups of water to cover the shanks and cook on a low heat until the meat is soft and falling off the bone and the liquid is reduced. I season the lamb with cinnamon, salt and pepper. Instead of water, add stock—any kind—or some red wine. I had none.

You can’t go wrong with a shank. You just need time. It takes two to three hours to get it really soft. We ate it with a buttery pilaf. My pilaf recipe, next time!