Hard Cider-Braised Lamb Shanks

September/October 2009

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Serve these succulent braised lamb shanks dressed in a savory apple-shallot sauce for a special fall supper. The shank, a tougher cut of meat from the top of the leg, becomes fall-off-the-bone tender after simmering in hard cider. Don’t skimp on the shallots: peeling 12 of them takes some time, but they are the base for the rich sauce. Serve over mashed rutabaga or potatoes.

"I used unpasteurized apple cider, which probably ended up making the recipe too sweet (and I usually liek sweet with meat). I thought about adding a knob of peeled fresh ginger to spice it up, but I chose to go with the recipe as written...
Hard Cider-Braised Lamb Shanks

Makes: 4 servings

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Total Time:


  • 3/4 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground pepper, plus more to taste
  • 4 12-ounce lamb shanks (about 3 pounds; see Note), trimmed
  • 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 12 whole shallots, peeled, root end trimmed but left intact
  • 4 cloves garlic, peeled
  • 3 12-ounce bottles hard apple cider, (see Shopping Tip)
  • 1 sprig fresh rosemary, plus 1/2 teaspoon chopped, divided
  • 3 firm tart apples, such as Granny Smith, Idared or Cortland, peeled and cut into 8 wedges


  1. Rub salt and 1/2 teaspoon pepper onto lamb shanks. Place flour in a shallow dish; dredge the lamb in the flour to lightly coat on all sides. Tap off any excess flour.
  2. Heat oil in a large Dutch oven over medium heat. Add the lamb shanks and brown on all sides, 8 to 10 minutes total. Transfer to a plate.
  3. Add shallots and garlic to the pan; cook, stirring, until beginning to brown on all sides, about 2 minutes. Carefully pour in hard cider (it may splatter); bring to a boil. Add rosemary sprig.
  4. Return the lamb and any accumulated juices to the pan. Reduce heat to maintain a simmer, cover and simmer, checking every 45 minutes to make sure the meat side of the shank is mostly submerged in the cooking liquid, until the lamb is fork- tender, 1 1/2 to 2 hours total.
  5. Transfer the lamb to a serving platter and tent with foil to keep warm.
  6. Bring the sauce to a boil over medium-high heat and boil for 5 minutes. Stir in apples and the remaining 1/2 teaspoon rosemary and continue cooking, stirring occasionally, until the apples are tender (but not falling apart), 10 to 15 minutes more. Return the lamb to the pan, turn to coat with sauce and cook until heated through, 1 to 2 minutes. Remove the rosemary sprig. Serve the lamb with the sauce.

Tips & Notes

  • Ingredient Note: Lamb shanks are a less common cut, but worth seeking out. If they aren’t carried at your supermarket, ask your butcher to order them for you. Some cooks recommend removing the thin white membrane (the “silver skin”) before cooking, but we liked the results of either trimmed or untrimmed membranes.
  • Shopping tip: Hard cider is usually available in 6-packs where beer and wine are sold.


Per serving: 482 calories; 13 g fat (3 g sat, 8 g mono); 94 mg cholesterol; 41 g carbohydrates; 0 g added sugars; 31 g protein; 2 g fiber; 284 mg sodium; 525 mg potassium.

Nutrition Bonus: Folate & Iron (20% daily value), Potassium & Vitamin C (15% dv).

Carbohydrate Servings: 3

Exchanges: 1 starch, 1 vegetable, 1 1/2 fruit, 3 lean meat, 1 1/2 fat

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Recipe Categories

Type of Dish
Main dish, meat
Health & Diet Considerations
Low saturated fat
Low sodium
Heart healthy
Ease of Preparation
Main Ingredient
Preparation/ Technique

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