Braised Lamb Shank with Sherry Blackberry Sauce

After having enjoyed a rack of lamb and remembering how much I love lamb, I needed more. This time, I opted for a different cut of meat, one of my favorites: the shank! I wanted to continue experimenting with “darker” sauces paired with lamb, so today, I have a Braised Lamb Shank with Sherry Blackberry Sauce.

Braised Lamb Shank with Sherry Blackberry Sauce

This was a very hearty meal. Given the beautiful, spring-time weather, it almost seemed a bit too heavy, but this is also when you get the best lamb, so I got over this dilemma pretty quickly. The meat was fall apart tender, rich in flavor, and infused with the dark flavors of the sauce. The sauce, at a high level, was a reduction of the braising liquid, but there was more to it in addition to the full, hearty flavors imparted by the lamb. The other major players: sherry (but a tawny port would be preferable–I thought I had some handy…woops), paired with the dark, tart flavor of blackberries and a few other savories to push those both a little more forward (e.g. star anise). it was full bodied, earthy, tannic, dark, smokey, fruity–just a lot of complex, exciting flavors that made for a really delicious result.

  • olive oil
  • 1 ~2.5 lb lamb shank (this could feed two people)
  • Spice rub
    • salt
    • pepper
    • oregano
    • ground chipotle
    • fennel seeds
    • coriander
    • ground thyme
    • majoram
    • celery seed
    • ground mint
  • 2 shallots
  • 6 cloves garlic
  • 1 carrot
  • 1 celery stalk
  • 5 cardamom pods
  • 4 cups chicken stock
  • small handful mint leaves
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 cup port/sherry
  • whole cloves
  • 1 star anise
  • whole peppercorns
  • 2 cups blackberries

Rub the spices on the lamb shank

Begin with the spice rub. Simply mix the dry spices in a bowl to taste–this is an area where I don’t pay a whole lot of attention to measurements. Make oregano, fennel, thyme, and mint the stars of the show. Rub this all over the lamb shank well,

Brpwn the lamb shank all over

With the shank well seasoned, get some oil nice and hot in a dutch oven that is just large enough to hold all of your meat. I started with what I would normally use, but since I was cooking less (as in quantity) than usual, you’ll notice a smaller dutch oven came into player in later photos. ;-) Anyways, the oil is hot, so brown the shank on all sides and then set this aside.

Prepare the sofrito base ingredients

So now, onto the rest of the braising process: the broth! Gather the veggies and spices.

Sauté the sofrito

Dice the celery, carrot, and shallot finely and sauté for about 8 or so minutes, adding finely diced garlic for another minute or two. Preheat your oven to 350°F.

Deglaze and mix the sauce, bring to a boil with the lamb back in

Now, deglaze the pan with the wine (I used sherry since that’s what I had available) and scrape up all of those tasty brown bits off the bottom of the pan. Then, add in the stock, mint leaves, and dry spices (I slit the cardamom pods open before throwing into the pot). Give this a good stir to mix it up and return the browned lamb shank to the pot, doing your best to submerge as much of it as you can in the liquid.

Raise the temperature to get this actively bubbling, and then turn off the heat, cover, and transfer this to the oven for about 2.5 hours or until the meat is fall-off-the-bone fork tender. Turn the shank over once or twice during this period to ensure all sides of the meat have equal time submerged in the braising liquid.

Blackberries

While you wait, you have ample time to finish the prep for the sauce. Begin by pureeing and straining the blackberries. I don’t mind the seeds on pretty much any fruit except for blackberries–those seeds just have an incredibly annoying quality about them in your mouth, so strain well so as to get all the juice and none of the seeds. Set the juice aside–the rest of the sauce comes when the braising is done (since we’re using the braising liquid).

Braised Lamb Shank fresh out of the oven

Once the lamb is cooked and is done with the oven, remove the shank from the pot and set aside somewhere to keep it warm. Pour the braising liquid through a strainer to remove all of the solids in the liquid (e.g. whole spices, any scraps of meat, etc).

Remove the meat, reduce the sauce, and skim the fat

Be careful straining all of this as the liquid is obviously quite hot! With the back of a spoon, press the solids to help squeeze all of that liquidy goodness through as you want every last bit of that flavor in your sauce. Boil this mixture hard for about 5-10 minutes to reduce it to a more saucy consistency and during this, mix in the strained blackberry puree from earlier. Also, recall that lamb shank has a good bit of fat on it, so during all of this braising, a lot of that is now in your sauce (which is a part of what makes it taste so darn good). While boiling, you should be able to skim the surface along the outer perimeter of your pot to remove some of the excess fat from the surface periodically.

Blackberries poached in Sherry Blackberry Sauce

Once time is up, take the sauce off of the heat and get to plating. I served with a side of mashed potatoes. I also spared a few blackberries from the food processor for the sake of garnish, so during the last minute or two of reducing the sauce, I added them into the sauce to just briefly cook them into submission. Plus, just look at sexy they turned out.

Braised Lamb Shank with Sherry Blackberry Sauce

Lay the shank attractively over the mashed potatoes (hooray for an easily sculpted side-dish!) and ladle some sauce all about, adding the cooked blackberries to bring it all together with a few chives for a little color contrast on the plate.

Enjoy!

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34 Responses to “Braised Lamb Shank with Sherry Blackberry Sauce”

  1. Lydia (The Perfect Pantry) Says:

    I’m intrigued by the spice blend you’ve used for the lamb — so flavorful and rich — but I confess that in the 70+ degree weather we’ve been having, it’s hard to think of such a hearty meal. I’m bookmarking and saving this one for a colder day!

  2. Peter Says:

    Mike, the spice mix is wonderful, exotic.

    The searing of the meat paid off…look at that dish!

  3. Ginny Says:

    This looks absolutely amazing!!! I love lamb and with blackberries? I love the combination!

  4. noble pig Says:

    Looks amazing. I know it’s good. I make a similar sauce with blackberries, Pinot Noir and Demi Glace and it turns out so well. Blackberries give things a great texture and flavor.

  5. Jan Says:

    That lamb looks delish – what a great idea with the blackberries! Thank you – I now have yet another must make!

  6. Sandie (Inn Cuisine) Says:

    Fabulous write up…your first paragraph had me at “full bodied, earthy, tannic, dark, smokey, fruity–just a lot of complex, exciting flavors that made for a really delicious result.” Yum.

  7. grace Says:

    that’s a most attractive plating that you’ve done–the big juicy berries are making me especially happy. perhaps some food styling is in your future. :)

  8. Zenchef Says:

    Ah. Very interesting. I like the combination of cardamon, port and blackberries in your recipe. I never tried it but it surely sounds like something i would like to eat.

  9. Adrianne Dow Young Says:

    Where the heck did you find blackberries this time of year? Dang it, if lamb and blackberries don’t sound good. Blackberries are impossible for us to find here in Spring. Come the end of summer, I’m coming back for this recipe.

  10. Kevin Says:

    A blackberry sauce! That lamb sounds really tasty!

  11. Coffee and Vanilla Says:

    Hi,

    Just a short note that you have been awarded with “E for Excellent” Award :)

    http://www.coffeeandvanilla.com/?p=2082

    Ciao, Margot

  12. RecipeGirl Says:

    I’ve tried rack, chops, stew meat and ground lamb, but never shanks. This looks WONderful- and I sure love lamb when it’s fall apart tender.

  13. White On Rice Couple Says:

    The fruit sauce with this amazing lamb looks beyond wonderful. Double kudos on the spice mix Mike!

  14. Nina Says:

    It is finally winter here in Cape Town and I’ll be cooking a lot of these slow cook type dishes this winter. That sauce is a new twist to this old favorite.

  15. Jeff Says:

    Nicely done!! Lamb shank falls under that nasty sinew meat category that needs more love.

  16. the caked crusader Says:

    Lamb shank is my favourite cut of lamb – expecially when slow cooked.
    The sauce looks delicious too!

  17. Susan from Food Blogga Says:

    I’ve tried blueberry sauce with meat before but never blackberry. This sounds intriguing, Mike.

  18. Terri Says:

    I just tried Stout-Braised Lamb Shanks, but I wish I would have seen your recipe for Lamb Shanks first. I have two more of them in the freezer and I will definitely try this one. It looks amazing!

  19. Tartelette Says:

    Never met a lamb shank I did not like, never met any part of a lamb I did not like for that matter! This is outstanding Mike!

  20. Marc @ NoRecipes Says:

    I love braised anything, and this combination sounds particularly delicious!

  21. Manchego-stuffed Lamb Burgers from Mike's Table Says:

    [...] Braised Lamb Shank with Sherry Blackberry Sauce [...]

  22. Pixie Says:

    I really adore lamb shanks and love this fruity sauce you made to go along with it. Bookmarked for the next time we make them.

  23. Kittie Says:

    Love lamb… Really love sloooow cooked shanks! Interesting sauce – was it very sweet??

  24. Blood Orange and Fig Braised Lamb Shanks from Mike's Table Says:

    [...] on its own, it also pairs quite nicely with fruit, and if I tend to do anything, it’s to fall back on fruit (what’s your signature? We all have one). In this case, I saw a lamb shank that used blood [...]

  25. Feeding Faults and the Food I Make « Savory But Sweet Says:

    [...] kept looking until I found a recipe that hit all the flavor notes I remembered tasting in the dish. Braised Lamb Shank with Sherry Blackberry Sauce. It was Mike’s use of cardamom that really convinced me I had hit the right track, so I [...]

  26. flash Says:

    Cooked this dish for my wife on valentines. Turned ou just like the pic (she says better!).. massive thumbs up, all the spices played their part – great tasting dish.

  27. flash Says:

    A year later and guess what my specialty dish is?

    (see above comment).

    Wife is full of gratidude for this one.

    See ya in 12 months.

  28. Austenbronte Says:

    This is by far one of my favorite dishes. My husband LOVES the sauce especially. The lamb melts in your mouth and the combination of the blackberries gives it such a delicious finish. Thank you for a recipe that is an ace in the pocket.

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