Prep 15 mins
Cook 3 hrs
This is a recipe of my mother, Mary Marble Wettergreen, which she often prepared in the oven. But I have found that lamb shanks are ideally suited to the crockpot,. Assemble the crockpot version the night before or very early in the morning.
- 4 (8 ounce) lamb shanks
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 3 fresh garlic cloves (or 1 tsp. garlic powder)
- 1 medium onion, chopped fine
- 2 bay leaves
- 1⁄2 teaspoon dried thyme (or 2 tsp. fresh thyme)
- 1 pinch nutmeg (optional)
- 2 tablespoons salt
- 3⁄4 cup pearl barley
- 1 (14 ounce) can tomatoes, chopped
- 1 tablespoon tomato paste
- 1 cup water
- 1⁄2 cup dry red wine (such as burgundy (or substitute water)
- In heavy skillet or dutch oven, brown lamb shanks in hot olive oil. Remove shanks and set aside.
- Saute onion, garlic and spices in oil until onion is soft.
- At this point you can transfer the entire dish to the crock pot, or cook it in the dutch oven. Add salt, barley, tomatoes, tomato paste, water (and wine if desired) to shanks. Make sure all the barley is immersed in liquid.
- TO BAKE: Cover Dutch oven closely and bake in a 325 degree oven for 3 hours or until shanks are very tender and falling off the bone.
- CROCKPOT: Cook the dish on "Low" for at least 8 hours. I found it easiest to assemble the night before and then just plug in the crockpot when I leave for work in the morning.
- In either case, turn off the heat and let the dish sit uncovered for 10-20 minutes. Use a tablespoon and skim off any excess fat from the top before serving.
I can't believe I didn't spot this recipe over all the years I've been here and all the times I've looked for lamb shank recipes! This was ever so simple and really, really yummy comfort food that I highly recommend to other lamb lovers. I added in a teaspoon of brown sugar, heaps of black pepper and used fresh thyme instead of dried. I checked it a couple of times as it cooked and added a bit more water (maybe 3/4 cup in total) each time.
Well, the packages marked "lamb" I pulled out of the freezer turned out to be beef. I tried it anyway with beef and it worked, except I think that beef is a bit heavy for this. Used Merlot for the wine. Will try it again with a proper leg of lamb. I suspect I'll be upping the rating to 5. This recipe reminds me of the ancient grain porridge, served with or without meat, called Frumenty. I had something very similar to this at a medieval feast I helped cook, except without tomatoes and with venison. Second version, with proper lamb shanks: I think the recipe needs a little black pepper, but it's good.
We were fairly pleased with this. Was really easy to make and the barley, which can be rather bland, tasted very nice by the end of the cooking. It nearly dried up in my oven though after 3 hours of cooking so I had to add maybe 1/2 to 3/4 of a cup extra water towards the end. The lamb was tender but not 'falling off the bone' tender like with some other recipes I've tried. We served with sauteed greens and mashed potatoes.