Recipe courtesy of The Four Coursemen

Lamb Shanks in Hay

  • Level: Intermediate
  • Total: 3 hr 45 min
  • Prep: 45 min
  • Inactive: 20 min
  • Cook: 2 hr 40 min
  • Yield: 4 servings
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Salt and freshly ground black pepper

Four 1-pound lamb shanks, bone-in

Olive oil

About 1 pound alfalfa hay

1 large onion, chopped

2 cups white wine

5 or 6 sprigs fresh thyme

1 bay leaf

Cabbage Slaw, recipe follows

Black Tomato Jus, recipe follows

Carrot greens, for garnish, optional

Cabbage Slaw:

1/2 head cabbage, cored and sliced thin to create strips


1/2 cup chiffonade of de-stemmed Swiss chard

1/4 cup malt vinegar

1 clove garlic, minced

1/2 jalapeno, seeded and minced

Black Tomato Jus:

3 large heirloom tomatoes, chopped

1/4 cup sugar

24 ounces stout beer

Salt and freshly ground black pepper


  1. Preheat the oven to 300 degrees F. 
  2. Salt and pepper the lamb shanks. Sear each shank in a large skillet with a tablespoon of olive oil until golden brown on each side, about 3 minutes on medium-high heat. Place a layer of alfalfa hay in the bottom of a Dutch oven or any ovenproof dish. Add a layer of the chopped onions, and then place the lamb shanks in the dish. Add the wine until the liquid mostly submerges the shank. Supplement with water if you don't have enough wine to reach the submersion point. Add the thyme and bay leaf. Cover the shanks with more alfalfa hay, and then cover the dish with aluminum foil. Braise in the oven until the meat has somewhat settled towards the bottom of the shank and it easily pulls with a fork, about 2 hours. 
  3. Once done, discard the alfalfa hay and the aromatics and gently rinse the lamb. (If necessary, re-warm the lamb in the oven with about 1/2 cup wine for 10 minutes at 350 degrees F, or until the temperature you desire.) Serve with Cabbage Slaw and Black Tomato Jus. Garnish with carrot greens if you'd like.

Cabbage Slaw:

  1. In a large mixing bowl, lightly massage the cabbage with 1 tablespoon salt and let sit, about 20 minutes. Pour off and discard the liquid. Toss the chard, vinegar, garlic and jalapeno with the cabbage and season.

Black Tomato Jus:

  1. Cook the tomatoes, sugar and 2 tablespoons water on low heat, stirring occasionally, until the tomatoes break down and appear jam-like, about 30 minutes. Add the stout beer to the pot and reduce the mixture by half. Season generously with salt and pepper.