Spicy braised lamb shanks with cognac

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5 min


4 to 6 servings

* PLUS Cooking time: 25 minutes, Baking Time: 120 minutes


  • 1/3 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 1/2 tsp curry powder
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp ground allspice
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 6 to 8 lamb shanks , about 3 kg total
  • 1 to 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 cup chopped carrots
  • 1 large onions , chopped
  • 6 garlic cloves , sliced
  • 1/4 cup cognac , or brandy
  • 1 1/4 cups dry red wine
  • 2 cups chicken broth
  • 156-mL can tomato paste
  • finely grated orange zest , of 1 small orange
  • 1 tsp hot red-chili flakes
  • 1 tsp fennel seeds , optional
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1/2 cup chopped cilantro , or flat-leaf parsley (optional)


  • In a small bowl, stir flour with curry powder, cinnamon, allspice and salt. Rub shanks well with flour mixture. Set aside remaining flour mixture.
  • Heat 1 tablespoon (15 mL) oil over medium-high heat in a large, deep, 16-cup (4-L) ovenproof saucepan or Dutch oven. In 2 batches, brown shanks on all sides, from 8 to10 minutes, adding more oil, if needed. Remove shanks to a plate as they are browned .
  • Preheat oven to 350F (180C). After removing shanks from pan, lower burner temperature to medium. Add carrots, onion and garlic to pan. Add more oil, if needed. Cook, stirring often, until onion softens, about 5 minutes. Stir in any remaining flour mixture. Return shanks to pan. Pour cognac over shanks-and-onion mixture. Carefully bring a lit match close to onion mixture and ignite.
  • When flames have died out, add 1 cup (250 mL) wine, broth, tomato paste, peel, chili flakes, fennel seeds, if using, and bay leaf. Increase heat to high and bring sauce to a boil, stirring to blend flour-onion mixture with liquid and tomato paste. If shanks are large, you may have to remove 1 or 2 to achieve this blending, then return them to pan.
  • Cover tightly and place in 350F (180C) oven, turning shanks every hour and stirring sauce until fork-tender, from 2 to 3 hours. Fresh, never frozen shanks take 2 hours, while previously frozen shanks may need 3 hours.
  • Remove shanks to a warm platter. Cover with a tent of foil to keep warm. Stir 1/4 cup (50 mL) wine into sauce to perk up flavour. Unless sauce is thick enough to coat shanks, place saucepan over high heat and boil sauce, uncovered and stirring often, until reduced enough to thickly coat meat. You will have to stir sauce almost constantly near end of cooking to prevent it from sticking. Remove and discard bay leaf. Spoon sauce over shanks and sprinkle with coriander, if you like.

Nutrition (per serving)

  • Calories
  • 505,
  • Protein
  • 46.8 g,
  • Carbohydrates
  • 18.6 g,
  • Fat
  • 25.3 g,
  • Sodium
  • 554 mg.

Highly seasoned but far from fiery, the sauce on these fall-apart-tender shanks is intensely rich but not heavy. Now, many supermarkets sell bags of shanks in their frozen food section. If you prefer fresh ones, you may have to ask a butcher who sells lamb to save them for you. This sauce works equally well with veal shanks.

Make ahead

This is a perfect recipe to make ahead as flavours improve with refrigeration. The entire dish can be made at least 2 days ahead, then covered and refrigerated until ready to serve. To reheat, set saucepan over medium-low heat. Cover and stir often until piping hot. Or reheat, covered and stirring occasionally, in a 350F (180C) oven. This dish also freezes beautifully and can be defrosted in the refrigerator overnight or in a microwave.