Cabernet-Chipotle Braised Lamb

I woke up Sunday all hyped for football. There's nothing better than sitting around the house in your pajama pants, yelling at the TV as players unceremoniously concuss each other for a few hours. Knowing I'd want to be home to watch some Sunday Night Football, I made the executive decision to make something really manly for dinner. The obvious choice for that is meat. I contemplated my meaty options. Do I grill rib eyes? Do I make pulled pork? No, it's too cold for that. But it's perfect weather for lamb shanks. Other reasons why lamb shanks are a good choice:

  1. Eating the leg of an animal is macho as hell.

  2. The meat shrinks up to the top, creating a gigantic, tender lamb lollipop.

  3. Once you finish the meal, you've just gained a bone that you can use to protect yourself and your family. Cave man style.

I spent minutes Googling. Then I saw it: lamb shank braised in a chipotle-cabernet jus. Just like Kim and Kanye, it was love at first sight.

I have absolutely no idea if blending the chipotle peppers into the wine makes a difference, but I chose to do it since I thought it would help spread the spicy & smokey goodness more evenly through the dish. I also spent a lot of money on a Vitamix and need to use it more. As this cooked, it just smelled incredible. The house was like a balloon filled with meat and wine. Braising the lamb shank for so long--nearly 4 hours--results in fall-apart tender, succulent meat. In lieu of mashed potatoes, I roasted cauliflower coated in harissa and yogurt for 45 minutes in a 400f oven before pureeing it. I also opted not to trash the braised veggies since they just contain more of that delicious lamby flavor. Unfortunately, they look disgusting on the plate. Sorry.

I absolutely promise you that this dish will blow the socks off of whoever you make it for. Husband, wife, parents, escort. Whoever. It looks tough but all the work is done in the oven, by the oven. If you want to be a little more modern, you could pull the meat off the bone and make tacos, quesadillas, rice bowls, etc.


Cabarnet-Chipotle braised lamb

Cabarnet-Chipotle Braised Lamb



4 lamb shanks
1/2 cup bacon, diced
1/2 C Spanish onions, diced
1/2 C celery, diced
1/4 leek, diced
1 clove garlic, peeled
1/4 C tomato paste
1 bottle Cabernet Sauvignon
2 C chicken stock
4 canned chipotle peppers in adobo
1 t black peppercorn
1 sprig fresh thyme
1 small bay lea


Preheat the oven to 300ºF.

Heat the olive oil in a large Dutch oven over medium heat. Season the lamb shanks with salt and pepper. Sear on both sides until golden brown, about 5 minutes each side. Remove from the pot and set aside.

Add the bacon to the Dutch oven and sauté until crispy, about 5 minutes. Add the onions, celery, leeks, and garlic and sauté until soft and translucent, about 5 minutes. Add the tomato paste and cook for 1 minute. Blend the chipotle peppers and the wine, then add to pot and bring to boil. Reduce the liquid by a third, about 10 minutes. Add the chicken stock, peppercorn, thyme, and bay leaf. Return the shanks to the pan and bring the liquid to a boil again. Cover the Dutch oven with the lid. Place in the oven and braise until very tender, about 4 hours.

Transfer the lamb to a plate and tent with foil. Strain the liquid through a fine-mesh strainer and into a clean sauce pot. Let the liquid stand for 10 minutes and skim any excess fat that rises to the surface.

Serve the lamb shanks with the strained sauce.



Recipe adapted from