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Braised American Lamb Shanks with Creamy Polenta

Prep Time:
15 mins.
Cook Time:
3 hrs.


  • 4 1/2 pounds American lamb shanks
  • Kosher salt, as needed
  • Olive oil, as needed      
  • 1 large shallot, thinly sliced  
  • 1 large onion, diced
  • 4 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 teaspoon fennel seeds
  • 1 pound carrots, peeled and diced
  • 1 pound Roma tomatoes, cut into large chunks
  • 1 pound cherry tomatoes
  • 2 tablespoons tomato paste
  • 1/2 cup red wine
  • 2 cups beef broth
  • 4 sprigs oregano
  • 2 sprigs rosemary 
  • 3 cups water
  • 1 cup white or yellow cornmeal
  • 8 ounces Gouda cheese, shredded
  • 3 tablespoons butter
  • 1 tablespoon honey
  • 1 teaspoon freshly cracked black pepper


  1. Season the American lamb shanks with a generous pinch of salt on all sides. Heat a large Dutch oven over medium heat. Add enough olive oil to coat the bottom. Once hot, work in batches to sear the lamb shanks, about 4-5 minutes per side, or until golden brown. Transfer the lamb to a plate.
  2. Add the shallot and onion to the pot. Sauté for about 6 minutes until beginning to caramelize, stirring often.
  3. Add the garlic, fennel seeds, and a pinch of salt. Stir well and cook for another minute or so. Add the carrots. Continue to cook for 5 minutes. 
  4. Add the Roma tomatoes and cherry tomatoes. Stir well and cook for another 5 minutes. Stir in the tomato paste. Add the red wine and simmer for 2-3 minutes. Stir in the beef broth, oregano, and rosemary. 
  5. Add the lamb shanks to the liquid. Bring the liquid to a simmer. Reduce the heat to medium-low, cover the pot with a lid, and simmer for 1½ hours.
  6. Remove the lid and continue to gently simmer for another hour, or until the lamb is fork tender and the sauce has reduced. 
  7. To prepare polenta, add the water and a good pinch of salt to a small Dutch oven. Bring to a boil. Pour in the cornmeal and reduce the heat to low. Cook for about 5 minutes, stirring often, until thickened. 
  8. Stir in the Gouda cheese until melted. Add the butter, honey, and black pepper. Stir well until the butter has melted.
  9. Spoon the polenta into a shallow bowl. Place the lamb shanks on top of polenta and spoon a generous amount of the tomato sauce over top.  

Source: The Original Dish & The American Lamb Board