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What Are the Best Tips for Roasting Lamb Shanks?

By Judith Smith Sullivan
Updated May 17, 2024
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For the best roasted lamb shank, the lamb must be fresh, marinated, and slow roasted. Although the shank is not the most tender cut of lamb, roasting can ensure that the lamb shank is moist, succulent, and flavorful. The two most important tips for roasting lamb shanks are to marinate and cook slowly.

Choosing a marinade is a decision based on personal taste. There are many online recipes for marinades from garlic and herb based marinades to barbaque flavors. Most good marinades include an acidic ingredient, like apple cider vinegar, wine, lemon juice, or Worcestershire sauce. This helps to tenderize the meat, so the lamb shank should be allowed to marinate for several hours, or even overnight, since it is a thick, relatively tough piece of meat.

After marinating, the meat should be patted dry with paper towels. At this point, some recipes call for dredging the shank in flour, which makes the skin flavorful and crunchy. To ensure the best flavor, the meat should be seasoned before flouring.

There are many ways to season the meat in addition to marinating. Rubbing the entirety of the shank is a popular method and very good for roasting lamb shanks. The desired seasonings, whether dry or liquid, are mixed and then rubbed on the skin. The fat of the shank also provides flavor. An alternative is to make small slits in the meat and to insert seasonings like garlic, fresh herbs, or citrus, allowing the flavor to soak deep into the meat.

Roasting lamb shanks at a low temperature is the best way to achieve maximum flavor and tenderness. If high temperatures are used in roasting lamb shanks, the lamb can brown too quickly, resulting in an overcooked surface and undercooked interior. If it is then cooked to a proper internal temperature, the lamb will be dry and tough.

It is possible to achieve a crisp surface and a juicy meat without overcooking. The lamb shank should be roasted at a high temperature, around 425 degrees Fahrenheit (218 degrees Celsius) for 10 to 15 minutes and then roasted at 300 to 325 degrees Fahrenheit (149-162 degrees Celsius) for the remainder of the time. A reliable meat thermometer, placed deep into the shank but not touching the bone will provide the temperature readings necessary to properly roast the meat.

An alternative is to pan fan the shank until the surface is brown. This will also give a crispy surface without overcooking the inside. This method can be used with a variety of seasonings, including dredging in flour.

Different recipes call for different cooking times and temperatures, depending on the size of the lamb shank. Thorough roasting may take up to 3 hours. To ensure that the dry heat circulates properly, the lamb shank should be elevated on a roasting rack inside a roasting pan.

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