So I was in channel on Wednesday, late night, talking to Esp about a bunch of random food-related things. I don’t remember how it came about, but he mentioned this slow-cooked lamb shanks with onion gravy from this place called Tommy’s Joynt in SF that he really likes and how he was gonna try replicating it for dinner tonight after work.
Since I’ve always been kinda meh about most of the traditional recipes for braised lamb shanks (ie: tomato based Italian-style, Moroccan-style tagines etc) his suggestions sounded really close to how I’ve always wanted my lamb shanks to taste: with more of a roasted lamb flavour versus a stewed flavour.
Well it turns out this “recipe” was exactly what I’ve been searching for in a braised lamb shank recipe. It’s super simple to make, especially in my Instant-pot❤️ (hence the note below regarding the 15minute end pressure cook to finish off) and it’s just perfectly flavoured, which I find crazy.
I had originally intended on making mashed potatoes to go with the gravy but I completely ran out of steam once the lamb got going and decided instead to just boil some noodles and serve it with some (leftover, frozen) braised cabbage. It was seriously awesome.
There’s not much in terms of recipe (will still write up something below for future reference though) since it was literally: sear & remove meat, cook onions & garlic, add back meat, liquids, herbs & spices, cook until done.
If needed (ie: you’re starving to death & in a rush): pressure cook the shanks for ~15-20 minutes at the very end if they’re still not yet falling off and you’ve already cooked them for at least 3hours.
Note on the the noodles: I made the trofie that Baby Bro & his gf brought back as a souvenir from the trip to Italy last summer; these took forever to cook for some reason and way longer than the 15-16 minutes stated on the package. They’re more like dried thinly-rolled dumplings, almost like spaetzle!
Once I had cooked the noodles their alotted package cooktime, I realized that I would rather have them finish cooking in the oniony lamb juices so they would suck up all the flavour.
While they were doing their final cooking in the sauce, I removed the meat off the bones and pulled everything apart into bitesized pieces and put it aside, ready to serve as is.
Once the noodles were cooked & ready to be served, I ended up at the last minute deciding to strain the triofe back into the empty noodle pot, so the sauce could be served separately from the noodles and wouldn’t bloat any of the potential leftovers that might be sitting around. Turned out to be a great idea and the extra sauce on the side meant you could add a spoonful over the meat just to keep it warm and juicy while you’re plating.
I don’t know that I would really change anything after my first time making this; I am really pleased with how the whole thing turned out.
As a sidenote: tonight’s shanks (raw) were probably twice the size of a normal shank & ridiculously huge compared to what I’ve purchased in the past:
Originally when I was talking to Esp about how many onions to use for the dish, he thought one onion per shank would suffice, but thinking about it for future reference: I don’t think I would change the amount of onions I used tonight; I think I would keep it at 2 (small/medium) onions per normal-sized lamb shank, just because it would make for better onion coverage when slow cooking.
Having said that, if in the future we end up with monster-sized shanks again, I might increase the onions considerably; maybe use 3-4 onions per dino-sized shank, just so you get the proper onion:shank ratio.
Lamb Shanks with Onion Gravy
4 onions, sliced
1 head garlic, peeled
Garlic Olive oil
2 lamb shanks
Beef demi-glace (Better than Bouillon soup stock base)
1L Boiling water
1 sprig Rosemary
2 Bay leaves
Mochiko flour, for thickening as slurry
Slice onions and garlic, leave small garlic cloves whole, chop large garlic cloves, set aside.
Heat dutch oven (Instant-pot!) over medium heat with olive oil. Season lamb shanks with s&p, sear all over, then remove from pot & set aside.
Cook all the onions at the bottom of the pot, seasoning with a bit of salt & pepper, until nicely caramelized, then add garlic. Cook a little longer until garlic becomes fragrant then deglaze with a bit of boiling water, just to prevent scorching or burning the onions, especially if you’re using an InstantPot.
Add a spoonful of beef demi to the pot & just enough water to dissolve the demi, maybe about 1 cup, barely covering the onions. Add the sprig of rosemary & 2 bayleaves.
Re-season the shanks with s&p then add back to the pot; making sure to cover shanks as much as possible with the caramelized onions.
Gently pour enough hot water into the pot to come about halfway up the sides of the shanks, but do not pour water over/disturb the onions! Cover and slowcook until meat is fall off the bone tender. At least 3 hours.
Bonus! If you’re using an InstantPot and you’ve cooked the shanks for at least 3hours, but they’re not quite falling completely off the bone yet, if needed: pressure cook the shanks for ~15-20 minutes at the very end if you’re starving to death & desperate to eat ASAP but can’t wait for the sweet spot to happen on its own.
Remove the shanks to a plate and pull the meat off the bones, shredding it into bitesize pieces. Set meat aside somewhere warm while finishing the onion gravy.
Simmer the remaining oniony juices over medium heat and thicken with a mochiko slurry until desired thickness is achieved.
Serve lamb shanks with onion gravy overtop triofe or spaetzle-type noodles and if possible, some braised cabbage. 😏 ❤️