Grand Cru Braised Lamb Shanks Served with a Dried Fig and Winter Spiced Sauce

Homebrew Chef Sean Paxton’s recipe uses a full-bodied beer, with its complex flavors taking center stage. The beer, Chimay Grande Reserve (Cru) or Blue, has notes of dried fruit, plum, fig and some spice from the yeast, playing up the richness and subtle gamey notes of the lamb. Paxton notes that Rochefort 10 and Allagash Grand Cru would also be excellent selections for this recipe.

  • 4 lamb shanks
  • Sea salt and pepper
  • 2 tablespoons all purpose flour
  • Olive oil
  • 2 carrots, peeled and chopped
  • 2 celery stalks, chopped
  • 2 leeks, cleaned and sliced
  • 2 shallots, peeled and minced
  • 750 ml Grand Cru style beer, such as Chimay Blue
  • 3 cups chicken stock (preferably homemade)
  • 3 tablespoons fresh thyme leaves
  • 1⁄2 cup dried figs, stem removed and quartered
  • 1 tablespoon light brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon whole coriander
  • 3 whole cloves
  • 1 cinnamon stick

Wash each lamb shank under cold water to remove any blood or fat and pat dry. Sprinkle each with salt, pepper and flour, coating evenly on all sides. Place a dutch oven or large sauté pan over medium heat; add olive oil to coat pan and add two lamb shanks. Brown evenly on all four sides, about 4 minutes per side. Remove and repeat with remaining shanks and set aside on a plate. Add more oil if needed to the pan and add carrots, celery, leeks, shallots and cook until the vegetables are slightly browned, about 8 minutes. Deglaze the pan with the beer, then chicken stock, removing any of the food with a wooden spoon. Add thyme, figs, brown sugar, coriander, cloves and cinnamon stick, mixing well.

Preheat the oven to 300°F. Add the browned lamb shanks back to the pot and submerge them into the vegetables. Bring the whole mixture to a low simmer. Turn off the stove, cover the pot and place into the middle of the oven for 3 hours or until the meat is fork tender and almost falling from the bone.

To prepare the sauce, carefully remove the lamb shanks and place on a large plate. Wrap with foil to keep warm. Using a strainer, remove the vegetables and whole seasonings from the stock/beer and place remaining liquid into a saucepan over low heat. Simmer until the liquid has reduced by half; taste and adjust seasonings. Serve shank over celery root purée (as listed on with sauce poured on top. Serves four.

Published on June 21, 2010