Braised Lamb Shanks with Spiced Butternut Squash

Happy Monday!  (That sounds so much better than f@%k Monday, even if that sentiment is more sincere.)

Well, I’ve been rocking and rolling with my new pressure cooker, and you’ll probably get two recipes for it this week.  Mine is a Fagor 8-quart Duo (which simply means it gives me the option to cook food at either 8 psi or 15 psi), and I just love it.  Dishes that used to take hours can now be made in about 1/3 of the time and it’s pretty easy to use, especially once you get the hang of it.

Anyhoo, Beloved was out of town on business last week and didn’t get home until very late on Friday (or very early on Saturday, depending on how you look at it), and had to turn around and leave again on Sunday morning.  When I asked him what he’d like for dinner on Saturday, he said, “I don’t know…but something special.  Not necessarily fancy, but cook me something.”  I began running the contents of our freezers through my brain (no small feat since there’s 3 of them), and said, “We’ve got those lamb shanks we picked up a few weeks ago.”

“That would be great!” he said.  So I pulled them out of the freezer and started thinking about what I wanted to do with them.

And I came up with this.

Lamb shanks are marvelously rich and tender when braised, and have a great flavor that stands up really well to robust seasonings.  I braised them in a nice Spanish rioja and homemade bone broth with caramelized shallots and served them over a richly spiced butternut squash puree and we ate every last bit of the lamb – The Young One just about inhaled it.  (There was no lamb left, and I made Butternut Squash Pancakes with the little leftover squash we had Sunday morning – they were deeeeeeelicious!)

If you don’t have a pressure cooker, or simply don’t want to use it, you can follow the instructions as written, but instead of the pressure cooker, make it in a enameled Dutch oven and braise on the stove, over low heat, for 2 to 2 1/2 hours.  Don’t be intimidated by the list of ingredients – most of them are spices for the squash puree.  This really is not a difficult dish at all.

Because there is wine in the braise, the lamb is not Whole30 compliant – sorry about that.  It might be quite good with balsamic vinegar in place of the rioja.  The spiced butternut squash, on the other hand, is Whole30 compliant.

Braised Lamb Shanks with Spiced Butternut Squash

Braised Lamb Shanks with Spiced Butternut Squash

Serves: 6
  • 8 ounces shallots, peeled and very thinly sliced
  • 4 tablespoons ghee, divided
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 2 lamb shanks, about 1 1/2 pounds each
  • 1 large carrot, peeled and cut into 1/4″ dice
  • 1 medium onion, diced
  • 6 ounce can tomato paste
  • 1 tablespoon fresh rosemary, finely chopped
  • 4 sprigs fresh thyme, tied together with kitchen twine
  • 1 cup robust red wine, such as a Spanish rioja
  • 2 cups beef stock, preferably homemade
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons kosher sea salt
  • 3/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 butternut squash, about 2 pounds, halved and seeded
  • 1 teaspoon kosher sea salt
  • 2 tablespoons ghee
  • 1 teaspoon curry powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1/2 teaspoon paprika
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cardamom
  • 1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper, or to taste
  1. Preheat the oven to 375 F.
  2. Heat 2 tablespoons of the ghee in a large saute pan over medium heat. Cook the shallots, stirring frequently, until they are soft and caramelized, about 20 minutes. Remove from the heat and set aside.
  3. In a 6- or 8-quart pressure cooker, heat the remaining 2 tablespoons of ghee and the olive oil over medium-high heat. Brown the lamb shanks for 2 to 3 minutes per side; Remove to a plate and set aside.
  4. Reduce the heat to medium and cook the carrot and onion, stirring frequently, until the onion is soft, about 5 minutes. Stir in the tomato paste, wine, beef stock, salt and pepper; add the rosemary and thyme and return the lamb shanks and shallots to the pot.
  5. Lock the lid of the pressure cooker in place and increase the heat until the cooker reaches full pressure (15 psi). Reduce the heat to medium, and cook for 35 minutes. Remove from the heat and allow the pressure to decrease naturally.
  6. While the lamb is braising, fill the bottom of a baking dish large enough to hold the squash halves with about an inch of water. Place the squash, cut sides down, in the dish and roast for 30 minutes, or until tender enough to be pierced with a fork.
  7. Scrape the flesh of the squash into the bowl of a a food processor; add the ghee and spices and process until smooth. Transfer to a large bowl, and cover and keep warm until the lamb is ready, if necessary.
  8. Carefully unlock and remove the lid of the pressure cooker and remove the lamb shanks. Using a fork, shred the meat away from the bones and discard the bones. Remove the thyme sprigs from the liquid in the pan and ladle enough of the sauce over the lamb to moisten it.
  9. Divide the squash between 6 dinner plates and spoon the lamb, with any extra sauce if desired, over the top and serve.
  10. If you prefer, you can braise the lamb in a Dutch oven on low heat for 2 to 2 1/2 hours.
  11. Nutrition (per serving): 473 calories, 26.8g total fat, 81.2mg cholesterol, 1232.4mg sodium, 1434.1mg potassium, 35.2g carbohydrates, 5.4g fiber, 8.9g sugar, 20g protein

8 thoughts on “Braised Lamb Shanks with Spiced Butternut Squash”

  1. Wow this looks so very delicious! I really wish I could get my hands on some lamb but it’s not too common where I live. This may be the incentive I need to go find some!

  2. This really was a great meal. I’m glad you posted both the shanks and squash recipe together. One of your greatest talents is in mixing flavors and I think all too often something is missed when the pairings you chose aren’t defined together.

    Not that I wouldn’t eat either alone but together? YUM YUM!

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