Lamb Shank Shepherd’s Pie


Makes one (9- by 13- by 2-inch) pan / Serves 8 to 10


2 tablespoons olive oil

4 lamb shanks (3 to 3 1/2 pounds)

Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

1 onion, quartered

6 sprigs fresh thyme or rosemary

1 cup dry red wine


8 tablespoons unsalted butter

2 tablespoons olive oil

1 onion, thinly sliced

1/4 cup all-purpose flour

1 cup dry red wine

2 cups low sodium beef or chicken broth (or reserved liquid from cooking lamb)

1 tablespoon tomato paste

1 tablespoon fresh thyme leaves

2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley

4 carrots, cut into 1/2-inch chunks

1 (10-ounce) bag frozen green peas

Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

2 pounds (about 2 to 3) rutabagas, peeled and cut into large chunks (substitute sweet potatoes or butternut squash)

2 pounds (about 4 to 5) Yukon Gold potatoes, peeled and cut into large chunks

1 tablespoon chopped fresh rosemary

Paprika for sprinkling on top


1. Preheat the oven to 350ºF.

2. Heat the olive oil in a large Dutch oven or a deep, ovenproof skillet with a lid over medium-high heat until sizzling hot. Season the lamb generously with the salt and pepper and place in the pan and cook until brown, about 5 minutes per side. Remove from the pan and set aside.

3. Reduce the heat to medium, add the onion and cook, stirring, until the onion is tender and light brown, about 5 minutes. Add the rosemary and wine and scrape up any brown bits from the bottom of the pan. Return the lamb to the pan and add enough water to cover about two-thirds of the way up and bring the liquid to a low boil.

4. Cover the pan tightly and place in the oven, undisturbed, until the lamb is fork tender, about 2 1/2 hours.

5. Remove the pan from the oven. Remove the lamb from the liquid, reserving the liquid, to cool slightly. Pull the lamb off the bones in large chunks. You should have about 4 cups of cooked meat. (This can be done several days in advance. Store refrigerated in the liquid. The fat will rise to the top and you can skim it off after it has cooled completely.)


1.     Heat 2 tablespoons of the butter and olive oil in a large skillet until sizzling hot over medium-high heat. Reduce the heat to medium and add the onion and cook, stirring often, until soft, about 5 minutes. Sprinkle the flour over the onion and continue to cook, stirring, another 3 minutes.

2.     Slowly add the wine and scrape up brown bits from the bottom of the pan. Whisk in the reserved broth about 1/2-cup at a time and bring to a low boil, whisking constantly. Stir in the tomato paste to mix. Reduce the heat to simmer and cook until thick, about 10 minutes. Add the lamb, thyme, parsley, carrots and peas and continue to cook until the carrots are tender, about 20 minutes. Taste for seasoning and add additional salt and pepper if desired.

3.     Preheat the oven to 400°F.  Lightly grease a 9- by 13- by 2-inch baking dish and set aside.

4.     While the filling is cooking, place the rutabagas and potatoes in a large pot of boiling water and cook until tender, about 25 minutes. Drain; add the remaining butter, and season with salt and pepper and mash until smooth.

5.     Pour the stew into the prepared baking dish and spoon the potatoes on top in serving sizes. Sprinkle with rosemary and paprika and place in the oven until golden brown on top, 25 to 30 minutes. Serve warm, scooping out a portion of the potatoes and lamb with each serving.


Sidebar: In the Kitchen

For a quicker option, replace the lamb shanks with ground lamb or ground beef, sautéed until light brown with the onion in step 1.  Or if time is on your side, slowly stew beef just as you would the lamb.