What Is Lamb Shank And How Do You Cook It?

Lamb shank is one of the most flavorful parts of the lamb and comes from the shin, which are the foresaddle and hindsaddle, according to The Spruce Eats. This tough cut of meat can become fall off the bone tender when prepared right and goes well with strong flavors.

When making a run to the grocery store, most people pick up beef over lamb. People eat 54 pounds of beef per person per year, and lamb only comes in at half a pound per person, says Food 52. Lamb can tend to be a bit pricier than beef and not be as easy to cook, which explains the staggering difference in pounds eaten. 

While there isn't much to be found when it comes to where this tender piece of meat really originates from, The Washington Post says most recipes come from those who raise sheep for wool. But the Middle East and India have yummy recipes for this piece of meat, too.

What exactly is lamb shank?

There are 10 different places to get meat from on a lamb. The neck, forequarter, shank, rack, short loin, tenderloin, ribs, chump, leg, and the second shank (via True Aussie Beef & Lamb). There are many more cuts besides the lamb shank, but the shank happens to be one of the most inexpensive pieces.

The shank is a pretty tough piece full of a lot of tendons, collagen, and connective tissue, which is why most of the ways people cook them are simmered in a liquid over a low heat. The shank comes with a ton of meat wrapped around a bone, which only enhances the flavor. 

As you now know, there are two different shanks on a lamb. The foreshank is the front and is smaller and the back leg is meatier, but both can give a good cut of lamb shank, says The Spruce Eats. Don't get fooled by the tough and tendon filled description because this piece of meat becomes fork tender within hours.

How do you cook it?

You can actually braise on the stove, bake, slow cook, or Instant Pot lamb shanks, says Cafe Delites. Because they taste best after hours of slow cooking, it is easy to do so in multiple ways. But it seems like slow braising is the star of all cooking methods.

Cafe Delites adds that slow braising in a pot with garlic, onions, beef stock, herbs, and tomato sauce will bring you a delectable stew-like lamb shank seasoned up just right and ever so tender. Much like a pot roast, there is one step that must be done before cooking lamb shanks any way you want. Sear!

Whether in the oven or stove, first start by searing your lamb shanks to get them nice and brown on each side. Then in the same pot, add onions, garlic, carrots, and some seasoning. Once mixed up, you can move on to the next steps.

For a stew or stove top style, add flour to the veggie mix in the pot to thicken it up, then you'll throw in your liquids. This could be wine, stock, and tomato puree. Then you'll add the lamb shank back in, along with herbs like rosemary, parsley, and bay leaves. Simmer on low heat for a couple of hours or until fork tender (via Cafe Delites).

Funny enough, this is the exact same process as you would do for the oven. The only difference is, instead of leaving it on the stove for hours, you'll transfer the oven safe pot into the oven! Make sure it is set to 350 degrees and cook for two hours (via Delish).

Serve with rice, potatoes, or whatever your favorite side dish is!

Is it good for you?

Lamb, in general, is a pretty lean and nutrition-packed meat, according to Healthline. Just 3 ounces of lamb gives someone potassium, vitamin B-12, and 25 grams of protein. Much like other meat, it also provides a good source of selenium, iron, magnesium, and omega-3 fatty acids.

There is, however, a lot of fat in lamb, which is why it's best to not eat every day. Because many cuts on a lamb carry half of their calories from fat, choosing lean cuts is the best option.

Lamb shank is a pretty lean piece of meat and provides niacin and zinc (via Check Your Food). In about 3 ounces of cooked lamb shank, there are between 150 and 185 calories. Of course, you can trim away as much fat as you'd like. The more fat you remove, the lower in calories it'll be, but you may lose some flavor (via LiveStrong).