Lamb Shanks Italian Style, with Orzo

Lamb Shanks Italian Style is typical of dishes that emanate from Italian peasants. I am constantly amazed how they turn low cost meats and fish into recipes that last for centuries. An Italian chef once explained to me that it is the peasant dishes from all over the world that stand the test of time. After all, the richer folk bought prime cuts of meat and didn't have to spruce them up to make them good. Submitted by Anonymous

Ingredients for Lamb Shanks Italian Style

  • 3 Tbsp olive oil
  • 4 lamb shanks
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 3 medium carrots, cut into 1/2-inch slices (about 1 cup)
  • 1 medium celery stalk, cut same as carrots (about 1/2 cup)
  • 1 large onion, coarsely chopped (about 2 cups)
  • 1 small green pepper (Bell pepper), coarsely chopped (about 1 cup)
  • 4 large garlic cloves, finely chopped
  • 2 Tbsp tomato paste
  • 1 cup dry red wine
  • 1 cup low-salt chicken broth
  • 1 can (14.5 ounces) whole tomatoes, crushed with fingers, with juices
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 2 tsps dried thyme
  • 1 Tbsp dried marjoram leaves
  • 2 tsps dried rosemary
  • 1 Tbsp dried parsley
  • Juice of 1/2 lemon

Ingredients for the Orzo

  • 2 Tbsp butter
  • 1-1/2 cups orzo
  • 1 cup low-salt chicken broth
  • 1 cup water
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • Juice of 1/2 lemon
  • 1 tsp dried marjoram leaves
  • 1 tsp dried parsley.


Preheat the oven to 325F (approx 170C).

Heat a large skillet or sauté pan over high heat. Add the olive oil.

Season the shanks with salt and pepper. Add to the pan and sauté until nicely browned, about 2 minutes per side. Remove shanks and set aside.

Reduce heat to medium-high. Add the carrots, celery, onions, and green peppers.

Sprinkle with a little more salt and pepper. Sauté until lightly golden, about 5 minutes. Add the garlic and tomato paste. Stir well to combine paste with vegetables.

Pour in the wine and broth.

Deglaze pan, scraping up all of the browned bits in the bottom.

Add the tomatoes, bay leaf, thyme, marjoram, rosemary, parsley, additional salt and pepper and lemon juice. Stir well.

Return the shanks, and accumulated juices, to the pan. Cover with a tight lid or, if in doubt, foil.

Place in oven and braise until meat is very tender, about 2-1/2 hours.

Check every 30 minutes or so to make sure moisture is not evaporating and to spoon some of the sauce over the shanks.

For the orzo, melt the butter in a medium skillet over medium heat. Add the orzo and toast until well-browned, about 10 minutes, stirring often and reducing heat as needed to prevent burning.

Meanwhile, heat the chicken broth and water in a small saucepan just to boiling.

To finish the dish, increase oven temperature to 400F (approx 200C). Stir the toasted orzo, hot broth/water mixture, lemon juice, marjoram, parsley, salt and pepper into the sauce in the pan with the shanks and vegetables. Cover again; return to oven and bake until orzo is tender, about 20 minutes.

Serve your lamb shanks Italian style immediately.


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