Braised Lamb Shanks with Brown Rice-Einkorn Wheat-Barley Pilaf

Reader Contribution by Deb Tejada
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Braised lamb shanks, pilaf and steamed broccoli

I have to say I tried lamb once as a child. My mother made a roast of some sort and I hated it. It tasted like soap to me. That may have been the only time she made lamb, because I don’t remember having it again until 20 years later, when my then-mother-in-law made these lamb shanks for dinner.

I’m not a fussy eater by any means, but I was a little worried after my past experience. Of course I would never let on that I wasn’t enjoying the dinner she’d prepared, but I have to say that of all the things I’ve eaten in my life (and I’m not afraid to try anything), lamb was the one thing I did not like. Not one bit.

Well… obviously I was surprised and delighted with the meal, as I’ve been making this dish ever since and it always turns out delicious. The only person I’ve served it to that didn’t “like” it refused to taste it, so that doesn’t count. 🙂

I’ve heard that sheep/lambs will not eat grains, soy or other “feedlot garbage,” only grass, so it would stand that they are all pasture-fed and therefore produce a high quality, highly nutritious meat. All the more reason to love this meal.

I usually make a brown rice-Einkorn wheat berry-barley pilaf as a side dish with the shanks, which uses the pan drippings from the lamb as extra flavoring. Any leftover meat is saved and made into Scotch broth, and the bones are saved in the freezer with beef and pork bones to make bone broth.

Scotch Broth!

Lamb shanks can usually be found in any grocery store that sells lamb meat in other forms (chops, steaks, stew meat). I will buy shanks whenever I see them and then freeze them for future use, just in case there’s none around when I decide to make this recipe. I’ve also asked store butchers if they have shanks in their freezer if there’s none on the shelves. Sprouts has been especially good about retrieving shanks from their freezer.

Garlic slivers inserted in the meat.

Braised Lamb Shanks

Serves: 4


• 4 lamb shanks
• 8 cloves of garlic, peeled and halved lengthwise
• 2-3 tbsp olive oil
• 1 package of fresh oregano, chopped
• 1 package of fresh mint, chopped
• 1 whole unpeeled lemon, chopped
• salt & pepper to taste


1. Using a paring knife, pierce lamb shanks and insert garlic slivers into meat.

2. Heat olive oil in a lidded deep pan, electric skillet or dutch oven and add lamb shanks. Place oregano, mint and lemon on top of lamb shanks. Brown the shanks/seasonings, turning frequently.

3. Pour in 1/4 cup water. Cover with lid, turn down the heat and simmer for 2 hours, turning over meat about every 1/2 hour (spoon seasonings on top of meat) and replacing water if necessary. If making the rice pilaf, that can be made at any time and set aside (see pilaf recipe to proceed).

4. After 2 hours, remove shanks from heat. Pan drippings can be deglazed with more water to be used as a gravy, or used in the pilaf recipe. Serve and enjoy!

Printable recipes can be found here:

Lamb ShanksBrown Rice PilafScotch BrothBone Broth

Deb Tejada is an urban farmer, foodie, do-it-yourselfer, graphic designer, illustrator and web developer living in sunny Colorado.  When she’s not in the kitchen or garden, you can find her at The Herban Farmer. Read all of Deb’s MOTHER EARTH NEWS posts here.

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