Red Wine Braised Lamb Shanks with Rice Cakes is the comfort food for this cold winter. Tender lamb meat braised in a smooth and rich sauce and serve with chewy Korean rice cakes.
This recipe is inspired by a dish I recently had in an Italian restaurant. It was a lamb ragu with gnocchi. Instead of using ground lamb, the dish had a lamb shank. I love that the meat is still attached to the bone. It was a beautiful presentation. Then there were the gnocchi. They were very soft and pillowy. However, I like texture. I thought why not use Korean rice cakes. Tube-shaped rice cakes look similar to gnocchi, and they have a chewy texture. Wouldn’t that be a fun twist?
Since it’s been consistently cold and rainy in LA for the past 2 weeks, we’re trying our best to bundle up and eating more hot comfort food. Braised lamb shanks sure is a great choice. And who doesn’t love that braising smell running through the house for a couple hours?
This lamb shank recipe is pretty basic. You start by searing the meat. Then saute the onion, carrot, celery and garlic. Next, add liquid like wine, broth and tomatoes along with the herbs. Put the seared meat back to the liquid and vegetables. Braise in oven unit meat is tender.
The thing that separates this lamb shank recipe from others is the sauce. By straining the vegetable out, the sauce is silky and smooth. That sauce is seriously good on anything, like pasta and mashed potatoes. OR even better, with chewy rice cakes!
Cook the rice cakes separately in boiling water for 10 minutes. Drain and toss them into that rich sauce. Serve with the tender almost fall of the bone lamb shank. Meaty, chewy, hearty and heavenly!
Red Wine Braised Lamb Shanks with Rice Cakes
- 2 lamb shanks (about 1 pound each)
- ½ teaspoon salt
- ½ teaspoon ground black pepper
- 2 tablespoons olive oil (divided)
- 1 small onion (finely diced)
- 2 garlic cloves (minced)
- 1 large carrot (finely diced, about 1 cup)
- 1 – 2 celery stalks (finely diced, about 1 cup)
- 1 tablespoon tomato paste
- 1¼ cups full bodied red wine (like Cabernet Sauvignon)
- 14 ounces canned crushed tomatoes
- 1 cup low sodium chicken stock
- 3 fresh thyme sprigs
- 1 dried bay leaf
- 12 ounces Korean tube-shaped rice cakes
- Parmesan cheese (optional for serving)
- Preheat the oven to 350˚F (180˚C).
- Pat the lamb shanks dry with paper towels. Season with ½ teaspoon salt and ½ teaspoon black pepper.
- In a medium Dutch oven or pot (that lamb shanks can fit) over high heat, warm 1 tablespoon olive oil. Sear the lamb shanks on all sides, about 7 minutes. Transfer the shanks to a plate. Use a paper towel to soak up the grease in the pot.
- In the same pot over medium low heat, add 1 tablespoon olive oil. Add onion and garlic, saute for 2 minutes. Add carrot and celery. Cook for 5 minutes. Stir in the tomato paste. Then pour in red wine, crushed tomatoes, chicken stock, thyme and bay leaf.
- Return the lamb shanks back to the pot. Move the vegetable aside to give space for the lamb. The lamb should be mostly covered. Bring to a simmer. Cover with a lid and transfer to oven. Cook for 2 hours 15 minutes.
- Remove the lid and check the meat. The meat should be tender, but not falling off the bones yet. Cook uncover for another 15 minutes in the oven. Place the pot on stovetop. Transfer the shanks to a large plate. Cover with aluminum foil and keep warm.
- Bring a medium pot of water to a boil. Add rice cakes and cook for 8 – 10 minutes. Drain and set aside.
- Strain the sauce into a medium bowl through a sieve. Use the back of a spoon to squeeze out as much sauce as possible. Discard the vegetables. Return the sauce to the pot. Cook over medium-low heat for 2 minutes. Taste and adjust with salt and pepper to your own taste. Add rice cakes and cook for 3 more minutes.
- Place the lamb shanks and rice cakes to serving plates. Top with more sauce and sprinkle with parmesan cheese if using. Serve immediately.
- When you buy the lamb shanks from grocery stores, there is meat attached to along the bone. Once they are cooked, the meat will shrink and one side of the bone will be exposed.
- Korean tube-shaped rice cakes can be found in most Asian supermarkets.
- If you don’t feel like rice cakes, try gnocchi, pasta, or mashed potatoes.
- When picking a pot or Dutch oven for this dish, use the smallest one that the shanks can fit. You don’t want a pot too big, because there won’t be enough liquid to mostly cover the lamb when braising.