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Course: main course
Total time: under 4 hours
Skill level: Moderate
Cost: Moderate
Yield: Serves 4
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I grew up eating cuts such as shank, short ribs, and oxtails. And I love the flavor imparted by the slow braising these cuts require. Lamb shanks were the first meat I put on Tra Vigne’s menu, even before a steak. If you like to smoke foods, try smoking your lamb shanks in a covered grill in a covered grill for 45 minutes to add yet another layer of flavor.


  • 6 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 4 lamb shanks
  • Salt and freshly ground pepper
  • ¾ pound mixed fresh mushrooms such as morel, shiitake, chanterelle and domestic, roughly chopped
  • 1 tablespoon minced garlic
  • 1 cup diced onion (¼-inch dice)
  • ½ cup diced carrot (¼-inch dice)
  • ½ cup diced celery (½-inch dice)
  • 2 cups dry red wine
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 3 cups chicken stock (see Notes) or canned low-salt chicken broth
  • 3 cups peeled, seeded, and chopped tomatoes (fresh or canned, depending on season)
  • ½ pound dried orecchiette
  • 3 tablespoons finely chopped fresh basil
  • 1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh oregano


Preheat the oven to 300°F. Heat 3 tablespoons of the olive oil in a large, deep overproof pot over medium heat until hot. Season the shanks with salt and pepper and brown on all sides, about 10 minutes. Remove to a plate.

Raise the heat to medium-high, add the mushrooms, and do not move them until they begin to brown, about 1 minute. Season with salt and pepper and sauté until brown allover, about 5 minutes. Remove to another plate and reserve for final assembly.

Reduce the heat to medium, add the remaining 3 tablespoons olive oil to the pot, and heat until hot. Add the garlic and sauté briefly until light brown. Add the onion, carrot, and celery, season with salt and pepper, and sauté until light brown, about 8 minutes.

Add the wine and bay leaf, bring to a boil over high heat, and cook until reduced by half. Add the stock and tomatoes and bring to a boil again. Season with salt and pepper. Return the meat to the pot, cover, and place in the oven to braise until fork tender. Test at 2 hours, but the shanks may take as long as 4 hours.

Let the meat cool in the liquid to room temperature. Remove from the braising liquid and reserve separately. Skim off and discard the fat from the braising liquids. (The recipe may be made to this point a day ahead, covered, and refrigerated. See Chefs Notes.)

Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Add salt and the pasta and cook until al dente, about 12 minutes. Drain.

Meanwhile, pour the defatted braising liquids into a saucepan and bring to a boil over high heat. Reduce the heat and simmer for about 10 minutes, skimming the surface all the while. Add the basil and oregano.

Return the shanks to the sauce and simmer gently just until heated through, then remove and keep warm. (To serve the meat off the bones, see the variation, below.) Add the mushrooms and pasta to the sauce and heat gently until warm through. Pour onto a large, deep platter or divide among plates and top with the shanks. Serve immediately.


If you wish to serve the meat off the bone (which turns this into a pasta dish rather than meat on a bed of pasta), tear the meat into big chunks and return it to the sauce with the mushrooms. Cook just until reheated. Add the pasta, stir, and heat through. Taste for seasoning and serve immediately.

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Nutritional Information

Nutrients per serving

1024kcal (51%)
598mg (25%)
37g (57%)
8g (42%)
218mg (73%)
200mcg RAE (7%)
23mg (38%)
103mg (10%)
13mg (70%)