Cooking and pairing red wine with lamb shanks
Author: Derek Walklate
Lamb shanks is a hearty winter dish so when pairing a wine with lamb it needs to echo the meaty character of the dish. If you were cooking a fattier cut of lamb in a spicy curry or tagine then you’d opt for an acidic wine to cut through the fat such as a Riesling. However, for a slow roasted dish then a bolder red is a necessity.
Whilst many recipes include white wine in the dish you can’t beat adding a good red wine with lamb shanks to give it flavour and tenderise the meat. A separate blog is currently underway on cooking with wine so I won’t give away too much here.
Red wine with lamb shanks: pairing options
You may want to add Stanlake Park’s Reserve to your dish whilst enjoying something a little bolder such as Stanlake’s Cricket Grove alongside your meal. In fact, Cricket Grove is an excellent wine pairing with Lamb Shanks with its flavours of black fruits, kirsch and vanilla. The velvety tannins and soft lingering finish are perfect with tender succulent lamb and thick heavenly gravy. Bordeaux reds, Malbec or Rioja also make fine wine pairings with slow cooked meats.
How to cook lamb shanks
There are many ways to cook lamb shanks but slow cooked is best so that the meat just falls off the bone creating a luxurious depth of flavour. Whilst the prep time is only 20 minutes, it really must be cooked for at least 3 hours to fully appreciate the flavours and tenderisation. If you want to impress your family and friends, try following this recipe which I’ve done for many years:
Ingredients (serves 4)
- 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil divided
- 4 lamb shanks trimmed of excess fat
- 1 large white onion diced
- 6 cloves garlic grated
- 2 large carrots sliced 1/2-inch thick
- 1 pinch salt and freshly ground pepper
- 1/4 cup flour
- 2 cups beef stock
- 1 1/2 cups of Stanlake red wine
- 14 oz (400 g) passata (tomato puree or tomato sauce)
- 2 tablespoons tomato paste
- 2 beef bouillon cubes crushed
- 1 teaspoon fresh rosemary finely chopped
- 2 tablespoons fresh parsley finely chopped (divided)
- 2 bay leaves
- Salt and pepper to season
- Preheat oven to 175°C (gas mark 3).
- Wash and pat dry lamb shanks with paper towel.
- Heat 1 tablespoon of oil in a heavy based pot over medium-high heat. Sear two shanks in the hot oil until browned on all sides. Repeat with remaining shanks and oil (transfer to a plate loosely wrapped with foil to keep warm, set aside).
- In the pan juices, sauté the carrots and diced onions until softened, (about 3 minutes), then add garlic and cook for 1 minute.
- Return the shanks back into the pot; season with 1 teaspoon coarse salt and 1/2 teaspoon ground pepper. Sprinkle with flour, toss well and cook for 4-5 minutes to brown the flour.
- Add stock, wine, puree, tomato paste, bouillon and herbs. Bring to simmer on the stove.
- Cover, transfer to lower part of the oven and cook for 2 1/2 hours, or until the meat is fall apart tender (adjust the heat so that the liquid simmers very slowly).
- Discard the bay leaves from the sauce and place pot onto stove. Simmer sauce over medium heat until thickened to your desired consistency (skim off any additional fat which rises to the surface).
- You should be left with about 3 cups of sauce thick enough to lightly coat the back of a spoon. If the sauce is too thick, add a few tablespoons of stock. If the sauce is too thin, boil it over medium heat for about 10 minutes, or until reduced to the right consistency.
- Taste for seasoning and adjust salt and pepper, if desired. Add the shanks back into the pot of sauce.
- Garnish with rosemary and serve with mashed potatoes (or rice or pasta)
Just don’t forget to enjoy red wine with lamb shanks, especially if you still have some red wine left after spending time alone in the kitchen. If not, just open another bottle.