Once you cook lamb shanks in the oven for the first time, you’ll understand how easy and delicious they are and wonder why you haven’t done them before. They are hot-pan seared for crispiness and baked for two hours in a conventional oven for high level of tenderness. The result is incredibly satisfying. Crispy outside, juicy and tender inside. Traditionally it’s served with orzo pilaf, but you can also serve it on the bed of another traditional dish, pilaf of bulgur, cooked with some onions and tomato paste to enrich the flavours and colors.

Lamb shanks served with bulgur pilaf


  • 2 lamb shanks (Around 500 gr)
  • 1 cup of bulgur rice
  • 1.5 cup of bulgur rice
  • 1 onion (diced)
  • 1 tablespoon of butter
  • 1 tablespoon of tomato paste
  • Olive oil
  • Salt & pepper


  1. Sear the lamb shanks on a hot pan with some olive oil. Heat the oven to 390 oF. Place the lamb shanks on an oven paper placed in Pyrex and cover the lamb chunks with the paper – you will have them cooked inside of the paper. For a better closure, you can place a piece of aluminum folio on top. Bake them for around 1.5 to 2 hours, until they become extremely tender.
  2. For the bulgur rice, melt the butter on a medium sized saucepan on medium heat and add the tomato paste and blend them together. Add the onions and sauté them until they are transparent.
  3. Add the bulgur rice, mix them with butter and tomato sauce, and stir them for a couple minutes on the medium heat. Add salt and pepper as desired. Add the cold water on top, once the water starts boiling, decrease the heat to minimum and cook for around 15 minutes with the lid closed. Check every 5 minutes to be sure there is enough water. If not, add some hot water. Once it’s cooked, do not open the lid, and leave it to rest for at least another 15 minutes.
  4. Serve the rice and place the lamb shanks on top. Enjoy!

Wine Pairing: Carménère

Carménère is a native variety of Bordeaux. With the intention of importing Merlot cuttings from France, it arrived in Chile in 1990’s. After being mixed with Merlot for years, the renowned ampelographer Jean-Michel Boursiquot found out that they were actually Carménère plantings. After this discovery, Carménère adapted very well to different climate and soil conditions of Chile and even became their emblematic variety.

My pairing for this dish is a glass of Carménère from Aconcagua Valley of Chile, vintage 2016. It was aged in French oak barrels for 12 months. This special valley, although one of the warmest growing conditions of Chile on the valley floor, is narrow enough to receive the cooling effect of both Pacific Ocean and Andes Mountains.

The wine poured into the glass with its dark violet color and conquered my nose with its rich aromas of ripe blackberries, plums, a touch of cocoa and paprika. Behind, you can hardly find typical green pepper and herb aroma of Carménère, nicely blended in with the bouquet of the wine. On the palate, its tannins and alcohol, balanced with refreshing acidity made it a very good companion of this soft and juicy piece of lamb which was cooked to perfection.



All images © 2020 by Wines of Nesli. All rights reserved.

Categories: Wine & Food, WinesTags: , ,

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