Lamb Shank Recipes

Welcome to the world of Scotch Lamb, a culinary treasure that takes its unique taste and outstanding quality from the rolling green hills of Scotland. When we talk about Scotch Lamb, we mean more than just meat — we are highlighting an embodiment of tradition, geography, and high-quality farming practices that make this meat truly exceptional.

Here, we will delve into the versatile world of lamb shanks, a favoured cut of meat at home and in kitchens around the world, and guide you through some exquisite recipes that celebrate this superior product. So, sit back, relax, and let’s embark on this flavorful journey together.

What Sets Scotch Lamb Apart?

It all starts with a stress-free life grazing in the lush, verdant countryside of Scotland, part of quality assured farms where the well-being of the animals is paramount. This natural and serene lifestyle contributes to the delicious flavour and tender texture of the meat that chefs and home cooks simply can't get enough of.

  • The Coveted GI Status

But there is more to this story. Scotch Lamb holds a special recognition in the United Kingdom — the Geographical Indication (GI) status. This status guarantees that Scotch Lamb is not merely a product, but rather a culinary experience that perfectly satisfies strict guidelines. These guidelines demand a proven link between the rich traditions and unique environment of the country of origin and a product that exudes the highest quality. It is this perfect symbiosis between Scotland’s environment, tradition, and meat that gives Scotch Lamb its distinctive and highly sought-after characteristics.

The outstanding quality of Scotch lamb is stamped with the coveted Geographical Indication (GI) status.

Several other foods and beverages around the world hold this coveted status, such as Champagne from France, Parmigiano Reggiano from Italy, Iberico ham from Spain, and our very own Scotch Whisky, among others.

What Cut of Meat are Lamb Shanks?

Lamb shanks are a specific cut of meat from the lamb's leg. Specifically, the shank refers to the lower part of the leg, just beneath the knee and down to the ankle. It is a section that is rich in connective tissues and is generally lean, which gives it a distinct texture and flavour.

The lamb shank is one of the most exercised parts of the animal's body, which is why it is tougher compared to other cuts. But this is where the magic happens because this characteristic is also what makes lamb shanks ideal for certain cooking methods resulting in unbelievably tender braised lamb shanks and slow-cooked lamb shanks that just fall apart.

What is your favourite fork tender lamb shanks recipe?

Given the quality of Scotch Lamb, the shanks from these animals are highly prized for their depth of flavour and the superior texture they can provide when cooked properly.

How to Cook Lamb Shanks?

Cooking lamb shanks couldn't be more straightforward. People are often intimidated by being faced with a whole leg or shoulder of lamb and they don't really know where to start. After all, could it be as easy as popping the whole thing in a snug-fitting dish with some tomato paste, red wine, fresh rosemary, salt and pepper and letting it do its thing for a few hours in the oven?

Well, the answer is a resounding YES!

Cooking Lamb Shanks: A Step-by-Step Guide

Cooking lamb shanks to perfection requires time, patience, and a little bit of technique. Here's a simple step-by-step guide on how to cook lamb shanks, complete with pro tips and variations to customise the recipe to your taste:

1. Preparing the Lamb Shanks

Start by preparing the lamb shanks. Trim off any excess fat, but be sure to leave some on for flavour. Season the shanks well with salt and pepper.

  • Pro Tip: For an extra layer of flavour, consider using a spice rub. Mix spices like ground cumin, coriander, and paprika, then rub them onto the shanks before browning.

2. Browning the Lamb Shanks

Heat a few tablespoons of olive oil in a large pan or Dutch oven over medium heat. Add the lamb shanks and sear until they are browned on all sides. This locks in the juices and gives your shanks a deep, caramelised and umami flavour.

  • Pro Tip: Don't rush this step. Take your time to ensure the lamb meat is evenly browned for maximum flavour.

3. Preparing the Aromatics and Cooking Liquid

Once the lamb shanks are browned, remove them from the pan and set them aside. In the same pan, add chopped onions, carrots, and celery (this mix is known as a mirepoix). Cook until the vegetables are soft and the onions are translucent. Add minced garlic, fresh thyme or rosemary and cook for another minute. Then, pour in some red wine, scraping the bottom of the pan to release any browned bits which will form the basis of a rich sauce.

  • Variation: For a different flavour profile, consider using white wine instead of red, or swapping out the wine entirely for a flavorful beef broth.

4. Slow Cooking the Shanks

Return the shanks to the pan and add enough broth to come halfway up the sides of the lamb shanks. You can use beef, chicken, or vegetable broth. Bring the liquid to a simmer, then reduce the heat to low, cover the pan, and let it cook for about 2 hours, or until the meat is tender and nearly falling off the bone. You can leave it cooking for longer if you wish, this will just add to the depth of flavour.

  • Pro Tip: For an even more hands-off approach, this step can be done in a slow cooker. Simply transfer the browned shanks, vegetables, and braising liquid to a slow cooker and cook on low for 6-8 hours.

5. Resting the Shanks

Once the shanks are tender, remove them from the heat and let them rest for a few minutes before serving. This allows the juices to redistribute throughout the meat.

  • Variation: For an extra touch of elegance, consider making a reduction sauce with the cooking liquid. This could be a red wine sauce or any other variant depending on the braising liquid used. Simply strain the liquid, return it to the pan, and simmer until it is reduced to a sauce-like consistency. Drizzle this over the shanks when serving.

For an easy recipe, season lamb shanks and render fat on medium high heat until browned all over. Pop in a tight-fitting baking dish, add some tomato sauce and beef stock and slow cook.

And that is how easy a lamb shank recipe is! These steps will yield perfectly cooked fall-off-the-bone lamb shanks every time, but don't be afraid to experiment with different fresh herbs, spices, and cooking liquids to make the dish your own. Lamb shanks are incredibly versatile, and there's no limit to the delicious variations you can create.

Common Mistakes to Avoid When Cooking Lamb Shanks

While cooking lamb shanks is a simple process, there are a few common mistakes that people often make which can result in less-than-perfect results. Here are some of the most common mistakes to avoid:

  1. Not Browning the Shanks Properly: Browning the shanks in a medium-heat pan before slow cooking is a crucial step. This process, known as the Maillard reaction, gives the shanks a deep, umami flavour and helps to lock in the juices. If you skip this step, your shanks may lack the depth of flavour.
  2. Using Too High Heat for Slow Cooking: Lamb shanks need to be cooked slowly over low heat in order to break down the tough connective tissues. If the heat is too high, the outside of the shanks may cook too quickly, leaving the inside tough and chewy.
  3. Not Using Enough Liquid: The cooking liquid helps to keep the shanks moist and tender as they cook. It should come at least halfway up the sides of the shanks. If there's not enough liquid, the lamb shanks can dry out and become tough.
  4. Not Seasoning Enough: Lamb shanks have a robust flavour that can stand up to strong seasoning. Don't be afraid to be generous with your use of salt, pepper, and other seasonings and fresh herbs.
  5. Cooking in a Hurry: Lamb shanks take time to cook properly. If you try to rush the process, you can end up with tough, undercooked meat. Make sure you leave plenty of time for your shanks to cook slowly and become beautifully tender.

Perfect Accompaniments to Lamb Shanks

The best side dishes for slow-cooked lamb shanks are the ones that balance and complement the rich flavours of the meat. Feel free to mix and match these suggestions to create the perfect meal for your family or guests.

  1. Mashed Potatoes: This is a classic accompaniment to lamb shanks. The creamy, buttery texture of the potatoes pairs perfectly with the rich, robust flavour of the lamb. For an added twist, consider making garlic or truffle-infused mashed potatoes.
  2. Rich Red Wine Sauce: A red wine sauce or jus can add a wonderful depth of flavour to lamb shanks. After removing your cooked shanks, reduce the cooking liquid over medium heat until it thickens slightly, and serve it as a sauce. For a finer jus, strain this delicious sauce before reducing.
  3. Roasted Root Vegetables: Root vegetables like carrots, parsnips, or beets can be roasted in the oven with some olive oil, salt, and pepper for a simple, rustic side dish. They add a natural sweetness that balances out the savoury lamb.
  4. Steamed Green Vegetables: Balance out the richness of the lamb with some lightly steamed green vegetables like green beans, asparagus, or broccoli. Toss them with a little butter, lemon zest, and a sprinkle of sea salt for a fresh and vibrant side.
  5. Polenta or Risotto: For something a bit different, serve your lamb shanks with creamy polenta or a simple risotto. These starchy sides will soak up the amazing flavours from the lamb and any sauce you choose to serve.
  6. Garden Salad: A fresh salad with a zingy dressing can offer a refreshing counterpoint to the rich lamb shanks. Try mixed greens with a light vinaigrette, or a tomato and cucumber salad with a lemon and olive oil dressing.


Where Can I Find Scotch Lamb Near Me?

If we have inspired you to give one of our lamb shank recipes a go but you are not sure where to get your hands on the perfect produce, look no further!

With the help of our interactive map, you can quickly find your nearest premium Scotch Lamb butcher or stockist. Just enter your location, and the map will pinpoint your closest supplier and you will be cooking up a storm in no time!

Backing Scottish Farmers

But more than this, with every purchase you make, you directly contribute to our local farmers and their unwavering devotion to upholding Scotland's profound farming heritage. These hardworking individuals deliver more than just delectably flavourful lamb; they rear their livestock with a strong ethical commitment, ensuring comprehensive care and quality assurance at every step of the process.

So, click on the map and find your nearest Scotch Lamb stockist today!

What's The Scotch Difference?

Let us take you on a journey into what makes Scotch Beef, Scotch Lamb and Specially Selected Pork so special, and how we produce such high-quality meat renowned and enjoyed worldwide.