Braised food

Best Braised Lamb Shank Recipe with Monterrey Johnny Cakes

“Everyone starts thinking about lamb once spring and Easter roll around because lamb shanks are the perfect comfort food, especially our Braised Lamb Shank with Monterrey Johnny Cakes,” says the executive chef Julio Genao of Prime American Kitchen & Bar in Stamford, Connecticut.

Not your average lamb dish, these shanks are marinated overnight with rosemary and garlic, braised in a tomato-infused red wine bath, then served with crispy Johnny cheesecakes and spring vegetables for the most appetizing main course for your Easter celebration.

Try this restaurant-worthy recipe at home during the holidays, and keep reading Genao’s tips on how to choose the best lamb shanks, how long to braise lamb, and most importantly, what to serve with the lamb.

Related: 15 Anything But Average Leg Of Lamb Recipes For Easter

What part of the lamb is the shank?

The hocks come from the lower part of the leg, just below the knee. I prefer hind shanks to fore shanks as they tend to be meatier.

What should you look for when buying lamb shank?


Lamb is the meat of young sheep, by definition one year old or less. Any sheep over a year old is no longer considered a lamb; they are considered mutton. Spring lamb is a mutton generally younger than three months old, highly sought after as the meat tends to be very tender. When you buy lamb, the color should generally be pink to slightly red, with white mottling and a slight odor of game. The mutton will have more fat, the meat tends to have a dark reddish color and it has a strong smell of game. Never buy brown or brown meat. Lamb is much more popular in America, while mutton is more widely consumed in the Middle East.

How to cook lamb shank in the oven:

First of all, it is best to marinate the lamb for at least 6 hours. Sear lamb shanks on all sides, add aromatics, a light red wine such as Pinot Noir, herbs and cook covered for 1 1/2 to 2 hours until tender.

How to grill lamb shank:

Braise the lamb shank a day ahead (this way the lamb stays intact) place the lamb shank on the hottest side of the grill for a nice charred and crispy sear. Then move the lamb to the cooler side of the grill to make sure it heats up inside. Brush with barbecue sauce just before removing from grill.

Related: 35 Ground Lamb Recipes

Top Tips for Cooking Lamb Shank:

  1. Roast your lamb: Instead of searing lamb and vegetables on the stovetop, roast lamb shanks in the oven. This is a good technique if you don’t have good ventilation at home and it will also give you good even cooking.
  2. Tie the lamb shanks with twine to keep them intact: Since the lamb shanks will cook for a few hours.
  3. Marinate the lamb shanks overnight: I usually make incisions before tying up the lamb and stuffing it with a paste of anchovies, garlic and rosemary. The anchovy melts and its brine adds another level of complex flavor and umami to the embers.

Would be served with lamb shank for Easter dinner:

This dish would be phenomenal for Easter with tzatziki sauce, tabbouleh and grilled pita.

More lamb recipes to try: