Balsamic and Citrus-Braised Lamb Shanks with Whipped Parsnip Purée

published Dec 28, 2020
Valentine's Day
Balsamic and Citrus-Braised Lamb Shanks with Whipped Parsnip Purée

The nutty-sweet aroma of the parsnips pairs perfectly with rich and meaty lamb shanks in this luxurious dinner for two.


Prep10 minutes

Cook3 hours

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A braised lamb shank sits in a circular plate surrounded by a napkin, plates of garnish, and utensils.
Credit: Photo: Brittany Connerly

This is the ultimate date-night braise. As the lamb cooks, the flavorful braising liquid creates a luscious sauce that gets spooned over a creamy parsnip purée. Balsamic vinegar is the perfect ingredient to balance out the rich and meaty braise (while also adding a little sweetness), and the citrus-y notes of orange and lemon zests and toasted coriander lend even more layers of welcomed acidity.

The parsnip purée completes the dish — the nutty-sweet aroma of the root veggie pairs really well with the lamb shanks. I recommend puréeing the cooked parsnips in a food processor, which creates the perfect happy medium of being smooth while still maintaining a bit of texture.

Balsamic and Citrus-Braised Lamb Shanks with Whipped Parsnip Purée

The nutty-sweet aroma of the parsnips pairs perfectly with rich and meaty lamb shanks in this luxurious dinner for two.

Prep time 10 minutes

Cook time 3 hours

Serves 2


For the lamb shanks:

  • 2

    (1-pound) lamb shanks

  • 2 1/2 teaspoons

    kosher salt, divided

  • 1 teaspoon

    freshly ground black pepper, divided

  • 1

    small fennel bulb

  • 1 head


  • 1

    medium orange

  • 1

    medium lemon

  • 1/2 bunch

    fresh thyme

  • 1

    small carrot

  • 1/2

    small yellow onion

  • 1

    celery stalk

  • 1 1/2 tablespoons

    olive oil, divided

  • 1 tablespoon

    tomato paste

  • 2 teaspoons

    ground coriander

  • 2 cups

    beef stock or broth

  • 1 cup

    dry red wine

  • 3 tablespoons

    balsamic vinegar

  • Balsamic glaze, for serving

For the parsnip pureé:

  • 1

    large parsnip

  • 1

    small Yukon gold potato

  • 2 cups

    whole milk

  • 2 cloves


  • 1/2 teaspoon

    kosher salt


Make the lamb:

  1. Arrange a rack in the middle of the oven and heat the oven to 350°F. Meanwhile, season the lamb and prepare the aromatics and vegetables.

  2. Pat 2 lamb shanks dry with paper towels, then season with 1 teaspoon of the kosher salt and 1/2 teaspoon of the black pepper. Halve 1 head garlic to expose all the cloves. Tie 1/2 bunch fresh thyme together with kitchen twine. Using a vegetable peeler, remove 3 wide strips of zest from 1 medium orange and 2 wide strips of zest from 1 medium lemon (save the zested fruits for another use).

  3. Prepare the following, placing them all in the same medium bowl: peel and dice 1 small carrot, 1/2 small yellow onion, 1 celery stalk, and 1 small fennel bulb.

  4. Heat 1 tablespoon of the olive oil in a large Dutch oven over medium heat until shimmering. Add the lamb shanks and sear, pressing them down with tongs occasionally, until deep golden brown on all sides, 10 to 12 minutes total. Transfer the shanks to a plate.

  5. Reduce the heat to medium and add the remaining 1/2 tablespoon olive oil to the pot. When the oil is shimmering, add the diced vegetables and sauté until beginning to lightly brown, 6 to 8 minutes. Add the orange zest, lemon zest, 1 tablespoon tomato paste, and 2 teaspoons ground coriander. Cook, stirring often, until the coriander is fragrant and toasted, about 2 minutes.

  6. Add the thyme, garlic halves, 1 cup dry red wine, 2 cups beef stock, 3 tablespoons balsamic vinegar, and remaining 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt. Stir to combine and bring to a simmer. Return the lamb shanks to the pot, nestling them into the liquid.

  7. Cover and braise in the oven, flipping the shanks halfway through, until the meat is very tender and just about to fall off the bone, about 3 hours total. Meanwhile, make the parsnip purée about 30 minutes before the shanks are ready.

Make the parsnip purée:

  1. Peel and dice the parsnip (about 1 cup) and potato (about 1/2 cup). Place in a medium saucepan and add 2 cups whole milk, 2 garlic cloves, and 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Reduce the heat to maintain a simmer and cook uncovered until the vegetables are tender, 15 to 20 minutes.

  2. Transfer the vegetables, garlic, and cooking liquid to a food processor fitted with the blade attachment. Process until smooth, about 2 minutes. Serve the shanks with the parsnip purée with some of the braising liquid and a drizzle of balsamic glaze.

Recipe Notes

Make ahead: The lamb shanks can be braised up to 1 day ahead and actually develops better flavors. Cool completely in the braising liquid, then refrigerate. Reheat over low heat.

Storage: Leftovers can be refrigerated in an airtight container up to 4 days.