Braised lamb shanks with tomatoes and red peppers

Braised lamb shanks with tomatoes and red peppers

Dean Cambray

I love shanks because they are flavoursome, juicy and gelatinous, and when braised in a tasty sauce they become the food of kings, especially when served with soft, herby, cheesy polenta or creamy, buttery mash. Another great thing you can do is remove the cold meat from the bones, wrap it in caul fat and roast it in the oven. You can reduce the braising liquid to make a sauce and serve it alongside the roasted meat.

Incidentally, I never brown shanks before braising them, but instead just seal the outside of the meat gently in oil. I find it allows the flavours of the sauce to penetrate the meat better.


Quantity Ingredient
1/4 cup olive oil, plus 1 extra tablespoon
6 lamb shanks, (ask your butcher to ‘french’ them for you)
4 red peppers
150g butter
8 garlic cloves, crushed
2 large onions, cut into 2 cm dice
4 carrots, cut into 1.5 cm slices
4 sticks celery, cut into 1.5 cm slices
2 tablespoons paprika
2 bay leaves
3 cups tomato passata
2 cups red wine
1/2 cup basil leaves
1/2 cup parsley, roughly chopped
1 tablespoon salt
1 tablespoon freshly ground black pepper


  1. Preheat the oven to 160ºC.
  2. Heat the oil in a heavy-based casserole over a low heat. Add the lamb shanks and seal without colouring, still over a low heat. Transfer the shanks to a large plate.
  3. Halve the red peppers lengthwise and rub them all over with the extra tablespoon of olive oil. Grill, skin-side up, until black and charred. Transfer to a bowl and cover with plastic wrap. When cool enough to handle, peel off the skin and slice away the seeds and pith. Chop roughly and place in a blender. Blitz on high to form a rough purée.
  4. Add the butter to the casserole and increase the heat. Add the garlic, onion, carrot, celery, paprika and bay leaves and sauté gently for 5 minutes, or until the vegetables start to soften. Return the lamb shanks to the casserole and add the pepper purée, passata and wine. Stir well then add the half the fresh herbs and season with salt and pepper. Bring to a simmer, then cover and transfer to the oven. Cook for 2–2½ hours, by which time the lamb should be very tender and falling from the bone.
  5. Scatter on the remaining herbs and serve with soft polenta or creamy mashed potatoes.
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