Pot-Roasted Lamb Shanks with Cannellini Beans

For a comforting wintry meal, F&W Test Kitchen Supervisor Marcia Kiesel adopts Simple French Food author Richard Olney's method of roasting lamb shanks at a low temperature with no added liquid. The spare ingredients yield an incredibly rich sauce that infuses the beans. The currant and berry notes in a right bank Bordeaux brighten this luxurious dish.


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  • Active:
  • Total Time:
  • Servings: 4
  • Time(Other): plus overnight soaking

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  • 1 1/2 cups dried cannellini beans, soaked overnight and drained
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 4 meaty lamb shanks
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 4 large garlic cloves, unpeeled
  • 3 cups chicken stock
  • 1 teaspoon sherry vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon chopped thyme

How to make this recipe

  1. In a large saucepan, cover the beans and the bay leaf with 2 inches of water and bring to a boil. Simmer over low heat until the beans are tender, about 2 hours. Drain the beans and discard the bay leaf.

  2. Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 300°. Heat an enameled cast-iron casserole that's large enough to hold the lamb shanks in a single layer. Season the shanks with salt and black pepper and cook over moderate heat, turning a few times, until lightly browned all over, about 15 minutes. Nestle the garlic cloves among the shanks. Cover and cook in the oven for about 1 hour and 45 minutes, turning 3 times, until the shanks are very tender.

  3. Reduce the oven temperature to 200°. Transfer the shanks to a small roasting pan, and the garlic cloves to a small bowl. Cover the shanks with foil and keep warm in the oven. Strain the juices from the casserole into a bowl and skim off the fat. Return the juices to the casserole, add the chicken stock and set the casserole over a burner. Boil over high heat until the juices have reduced to 2 cups, about 12 minutes.

  4. Peel the garlic cloves and add the sherry vinegar. With a fork, mash to a paste. Add the garlic paste to the juices in the casserole and stir in the beans and thyme. Simmer over low heat for 5 minutes. Season with salt and black pepper.

  5. Place the lamb shanks on plates and serve with the beans.

Make Ahead

The beans can be prepared through Step 1 and refrigerated overnight in their liquid. The lamb can be prepared through Step 2 and refrigerated overnight.

Suggested Pairing

These succulent lamb shanks will go best with a Merlot-dominated red Bordeaux from what's known as the right bank—the appellation of Pomerol, for instance. Merlot's gamey, black cherry depth is potent enough to pair with rich meats; at the same time it's not so tannic that it will conflict with the orange-spiked Swiss chard.

Contributed By Photo © Quentin Bacon Published February 2008

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