Slow Cooked Lamb Shanks with a Puy Lentil Stew

I love this recipe because I’ve made it over the years for dinner parties large and small and it reminds me of my family and friends that I’ve cooked this for.

It’s a one pot wonder that requires min effort but max return. It’s a riff off the now very popular Lamb Ragu but even easier.

The shanks serve 4 and you should get 8-10 portions from the stew. I also like to have the leftover stew with rice or even mix it with pasta as another iteration of the dish. As always, the stew is also freezer friendly.

Serves 4
Cooking time 3.5 hours (30 mins prep/cooking, 3 hrs slow cooking)
Ingredients 12
Skill Level Easy to Moderate (easier than lamb ragu!)


  • 4 Lamb shanks
  • 2 slices of pancetta (or bacon)
  • 2 cups of vegetable stock
  • 2 canned tomatoes
  • 4 carrots
  • 3 stalks of celery (plus leaves, optional)
  • 1.5 cups of Puy lentils
  • 2 tablespoons of tomato paste
  • 4 tablespoons of Vietnamese fish sauce
  • 4 sprigs of oregano
  • 1 small bunch of fresh type
  • 3 sprigs of rosemary
  • 1 cup of red wine, I've used a shiraz


  1. Pre-heat your oven to 170 degrees Celsius. 
  2. Heat a big pot with some olive oil, I'm using a 7L Dutch Oven. Once your oil is hot, begin to sear and brown your 4 lamb shanks in the pot.
  3. Make sure you turn your shanks around every few minutes to ensure even browning on all of its surface area. To make sure the ends of the shanks are also browned, I normally stand the shanks up with the ends facing into the oil using tongs and hold for about a minute. 


  4. Once evenly browned, transfer to a tray whilst you prepare the sauce for the stew.
  5. Tip out any excess oil from your pot. Do not wipe your pot clean, the crispy brown bits you see from searing the lamb is called 'fond' and provides a great base flavour for the sauce. 
  6. Roughly chop the 2 slices of pancetta into squares, and add them to your pot with the fond on medium heat. Do not add any extra oil because the pancetta is high in fat which will render out and become the only oil you need to start the sauce. Stir until golden and crispy and then remove from the pot.
  7. Add the seared lamb shanks back into the pot, add in 2 tablespoons of tomato paste and the 2 cans of tomatoes.
  8. Roughly chop your carrots and celery into chunks and add these to the pot. Then add 1 generous cup of red wine.
  9. You can also roughly chop in any celery leaves you might have, they are so great at flavouring the stew. 

  10. Add in 2 cups of vegetable stock to the pot. At this point you want to fully submerge your shanks and vegetables in the liquid, so add more if you need to. I fill my tomato cans with warm water and tip this in for added liquid. 
  11. Time to prepare your herbs. I like to tie my Thyme into a small bunch that I can fish out later. I pluck the oregano leaves off the stem but leave the rosemary stalks as is as they are hardy and easy to remove after cooking. Once ready, add these to the pot.
  12. Add a few tablespoons of Vietnamese fish sauce to your sauce while it's simmering. Cover with a lid and transfer to your oven. Cook for 3 hours at 170 degrees Celsius - low and slow. Make sure to check in with your meat every hour though to make sure everything is going to plan.
  13. At the 2-3 hour mark, you'll see that the meat has pulled away from the shank exposing the ones and when you touch the meat it easily falls off the bones. It's now ready to be removed.
  14. Remove the lamb and place into a tray covered with foil to rest while you finish the stew. The sauce should still be quite liquid.
  15. Add your puy lentils to the pot, stir into the sauce, cover with a lid and cook for another 30-45 mins in the oven or until the lentils have expanded and are soft.
  16. After 45mins, the lentils will have soaked up the sauce and in turn thickened the sauce into a stew. Now you can serve this with your lamb shanks.


Recipe FAQ's:

Do you take the lamb meat off the bone, or serve the shank as is?

You should serve the shank as is, this is what makes this dish different to the lamb ragu. For dinner parties, I normally serve 1 shank per person onto their plate, and then place down a selection of sides including the stew that they can serve themselves. 

Any lentil free suggestions? I couldn't find lentils

If you can't get Puy Lentils, try any of the following:

  • Chickpeas
  • Beans: Kidney, Red or Black
  • Any other type of lentils
  • Soup bases like barley, green split peas
  • Frozen peas, but just stir them through at the end, no need to slow cook.

How would you alter recipe this for a slow cooker?

I would brown the meat and pancetta in a pan or pot before throwing everything into the slow cooker. This should take anywhere between 4-8 hours in a slow cooker.

Could you continue to cook this dish on the stove top instead of the oven?

Once you add in your lentils you can definitely cook this on the stove on a medium heat rather than in the oven. Just give it a stir every 15 minutes or so to make sure the bottom of the stew doesn't burn.


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