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Southwest Lamb Shanks

Posted by Denise on December 30, 2013 

sw lamb in skillet 1
A skilletful of lusciousness, cranberry and chipotle form a spicy sauce that juicy lamb shanks are simmered in.

My guys love lamb, so I am constantly on the lookout for interesting recipes featuring lamb meat. But this time when I decided to try a new recipe from a last-year’s Fine Cooking magazine, they were a little worried. They weren’t sure that the combination of chipotle peppers, cranberries and lamb would go well together no matter how good I thought it would be.

I went ahead and made the recipe and watched their faces as each of them took their first bite of the finished dish. Success! Their eyes lit up and nothing was said for a few minutes as they plowed through the food, lamb shank in hand. I enjoyed the quiet. Lol! When they came up for air, they announced it was a solid 10 out of 10 on the keeper scale. The meat becomes super tender and the ingredients come together to make a really tasty sauce, highlighting the lamb flavors instead of overpowering it. And it has a nice little kick at the end. They are so happy whenever I make this.

This lamb entrée is easy to make and once it is in the oven I can do other things as it cooks, making it one of my favorite types of meals. Just plan ahead because it takes 2 to 2 ½ hours to cook, depending on the size of the lamb shanks you use. Use a heavy skillet with taller sides, like a deep cast iron skillet for best results.


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Southwest Lamb Shanks

southwest lamb shanks ingredients 

Southwest Lamb Shanks ingredients. 


Makes 4 servings





tablespoon canola oil


lamb shanks, 14-16 ounces each, blotted dry


Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper


cup finely chopped onion


medium cloves garlic, minced


cup full-bodied red wine such as Cabernet Sauvignon or Merlot (we used Merlot)


ounces (2 cups) fresh or frozen cranberries


cup lower-salt beef broth


cup honey


tablespoons minced canned chipotles in adobo


teaspoons ground cumin


cup chopped fresh cilantro, plus one tablespoon of it for garnish


1.  Position a rack in the center of the oven and heat to 325o F. Heat a 12” diameter heavy pan, preferably a cast iron skillet, over medium-high heat for about 2 minutes until it is really hot. Add the oil and make sure it covers the bottom of the pan, then add the lamb shanks and brown them on all sides, 10 to 12 minutes total. When done, remove the pan from the heat and transfer the lamb to a plate. Season them well with salt and pepper.


sw lamb shanks browning lamb 


2. Turn the heat to medium and using the same skillet, cook the onion until softened, stirring as needed, for 2 to 3 minutes. Add the garlic and cook, stirring, for about 30 seconds. Stir in the wine and bring to a boil, stirring to scrape all of the tasty bits off of the bottom of the pan.

 sw lamb shanks adding wine to onions


3.  Stir in the cranberries, beef broth, honey, chipotles, and cumin. Cook until the cranberries begin to split, about 5 minutes. Arrange the lamb shanks in the skillet and cover the pan tightly with a lid or heavy-duty with aluminum foil. Place the pan in the oven and cook, turning the lamb shanks 2 or 3 times during the cooking to coat the meat with the sauce, for 2 to 2 ½ hours until the lamb is fork tender. When the meat is tender, remove the skillet from the oven and transfer the lamb shanks to a large bowl and cover to keep them warm.

 sw lamb shanks adding cranberries and spices


4.  Skim fat from the top of the sauce, then boil the sauce, still in the skillet, until it thickens and lightly coats the back of a clean spoon, about 8 minutes. Stir in ¼ cup of the cilantro and season the sauce to taste with salt and pepper. Return the lamb shanks to the skillet and turn them in the sauce to coat them with it. Let them heat back up, then sprinkle the with remaining cilantro and serve with extra sauce, if desired.

 sw lamb shanks chopping cilantro   sw lamb shanks adding cilantro to sauce

sw lamb shanks cooking in sauce

sw lamb shanks in pan


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