This braised lamb in red wine, tomatoes, garlic, and herbs is slow-cooked for almost two hours until the meat is fork-tender. Serve over steamed rice, mashed potatoes, or buttered noodles for a complete meal.
Using a chef's knife and sturdy cutting board, cut the lamb into 2-inch cubes. Pat dry to remove any excess moisture.Tip - Ensure the meat is dry so it will sear not stew when browning.
Season with salt and pepper. Then, coat generously with flour. Dust off any excess flour.Tip - The flour adds caramelization and also helps thicken the sauce. But, any excess can burn in the oil giving it a bitter taste. So, dust off well any excess flour.
In a heavy-bottom pan or Dutch oven, over medium to high heat, add 1 tbsp oil and add the meat pieces. Do not crowd the pan. Do this in batches.Tip - Adding too many pieces at once will stew not sear, so best to do this in batches.
Use a meat tong to turn the meat and get an even color on all sides. Adjust the heat from medium to high, so you get good caramelization. Remove from the pan and set aside. Tip - If the meat is stuck to the pan, do not forcibly remove it. It means it needs more time. Try again in a minute.
To the same pan, add the remaining oil, and saute the onions, garlic, carrots, and celery until onions are translucent - about 4 minutes.
Then, add the brown sugar and saute until the brown sugar is also well caramelized - about 2 minutes. Tip - Caramelizing the sugar adds flavor and color. So, do this gently on low heat without burning the sugar.
Next, add the red wine and deglaze the pan. Let it come to a boil and simmer for 2 minutes. This will reduce the wine and concentrate the flavors.
Next, add the crushed tomatoes and vinegar. Season with salt and pepper.
Then, return the lamb back to the pan followed by the broth.
Add the fresh rosemary and thyme. Give it all a good stir. Bring to a boil.
Cover the pan, lower the heat to a simmer and cook on low for 1 to 1 ½ hour or until the meat is fork-tender. Tip - The cut of meat and the size of the pieces you use, will determine the time it needs to cook. Leg of lamb cut into 2-inch pieces will take about 1 ¼ hour. Lamb stew meat will take about an hour. Lamb shanks usually take me about 1 ½ hours.
Make sure to stir occasionally. If necessary, add ¼ to ½ cup water to ensure it does not burn at the bottom. Tip - If you use a Duch oven like me, you won't need to add water as it retains moisture. But, a pan with a lid, where steams escapes, will need a little water over time. So, keep an eye and stir as necessary.
When done, taste and adjust seasoning. Check consistency and if necessary add a little more water.
Sprinkle chopped parsley for garnish before serving.
I cut the lamb into 2-inch cubes but you can make big pieces and cook a bit longer.
Thaw the lamb at least an hour before you cook it. Room temperature meat will not seize at high temperatures.
This recipe will work with 4 to 6 lamb shanks as well.
Searing the meat must be done on medium-high heat so you get a nice crisp coating that keeps all those juices inside.
Always use red wine that you like to drink by the glass. No cooking wines. For the lamb, I think a Merlot, pinot noir work wonderfully. You can also omit the red wine and use only chicken broth.
I am using canned crushed tomatoes but you can use 2 cups fresh finely chopped tomatoes as well.
In this recipe, you can use lemon juice, balsamic, or apple cider vinegar. I like the color and tartness balsamic adds to the lamb
If you plan to add more veggies like carrots or potatoes to this dish, I suggest you reduce the chicken broth by half because veggies will release moisture too.
This braised lamb is more delicious the next day so make it up to two days ahead and keep it in the fridge.