Braised Lemon Rosemary Lamb Shanks with “Caramelized” Turnips

Four months ago or so, I would NEVER have even looked at a recipe with this name, let alone eaten it, let alone LOVED it.  I remember reading a restaurant review some time ago from local foodie Howard Seftel, and literally gagging when he mentioned how dreamy and “mucilaginous” perfect lamb shanks were.  However, times and tastes do change, and now, Howard, I understand you.

Shown with Red Quinoa

Whenever I make this dish (which has been probably eight times in the last couple of months), my eight-year-old son hovers, eyes wide, as I dish it out.  He is gleeful when I pop a turnip chunk or two in his mouth, and was literally ecstatic when I gave him a whole bowlful last night, hopping around, and running to tell his brothers of his luck.  When I eat this dish, I tell myself that I am going to portion out the turnips, eating them slowly, alternating bites with the lamb.  A few minutes later, as my lamb shank sits bare on my plate, no turnips in sight, I only mildly bemoan my lack of self-control.  Even if you think you don’t like turnips, I encourage you to try them this way!  If an 8yo, who is not a particular fan of veggies, delights in them, you can be assured that it’s likely that you will love them, too!

Lamb shanks are definitely slow food.  This easy recipe is edible in two hours, but perfect in three.  It’s worth it, though!

I say “caramelized” because the turnips end up having the appearance of being caramelized, but they really aren’t.  It is likely that this recipe would also work well with rutabagas and/or parsnips, but I have not tried either.

As they contain a great deal of bone, lamb shanks are among the least expensive cuts of lamb.  Here in the Phoenix area, I buy mine frozen from Lee Lee Oriental Market at only $3.29/lb.

(As always, this is a gluten-free, dairy/casein-free dish!)

Braised Lemon Rosemary Lamb Shanks with “Caramelized” Turnips
serves two

  • 2 lamb shanks, ¾ to 1 lb each
  • 2 medium turnips, cut into 1″ cubes (approximately 4 cups)
  • ½ lemon (zest and juice)
  • ½ teaspoon sea salt
  • 2″ long rosemary sprig
  • ½ cup water
  1. Measure water into a 10″ skillet.  Into it, place the lamb shanks, and sprinkle them with the zest of ½ lemon.
  2. Arrange the turnips around the shanks as evenly as possible.
  3. Sprinkle the turnips and lamb with fresh rosemary leaves and sea salt.
  4. Squeeze the juice of ½ lemon over everything.
  5. Bring to boil over high heat, cover, and quickly turn down to simmer on low.
  6. Check periodically that the water has not evaporated.  During that time, as the meat shrinks while it cooks, gently rearrange turnips so that they are braising in the broth as the dish cooks.
  7. After 2 hours, check the tenderness of the meat and lamb.  At this point, the dish will have been cooked thoroughly and will be edible.  However, you will get perfect flavor if you allow it to cook for another hour or so.
  8. Check the turnips, lamb, and sauce level at 15 minute intervals for an additional 45 minutes to 1 hour, for a total of 2:45 – 3:00 cooking time.  You do not want the water to run out entirely, though when the dish is done, you want a reduced, thickish, caramel-colored sauce at the bottom of the pan.  Also, you’re looking for the turnips to be totally infused with the taste and color of the sauce.  If there is not enough water, the sauce and turnips will burn, rendering them inedible (ask me how I know!  😦 ).  But, if the sauce is too thin, it’s won’t be rich and flavorful enough, and the color and flavor will not saturate the turnips.
  9. When the sauce is reduced and the turnips are a dark golden caramel color, the dish is done.
  10. Enjoy hot!

Braised Lemon Rosemary Lamb Shanks with Turnips (printable PDF)


About Karen Joy

I'm a partially-homeschooling mother of six -- 3 boys ages 19, 17 and 15 years old, and three girls: 11, 8, and 3. I like birding, reading, writing, organic gardening, singing, playing guitar, hiking, the outdoors, and books. I very casually lead a very large group of homeschooling families in the Phoenix area. I have a dear hubby who designs homes for a local home builder and who is the worship pastor of our church. I live in the desert, which I used to hate, but now appreciate.

Posted on January 25, 2010, in Celiac Disease, Cooking/Baking/Food/Recipes, Dairy-free, GF Recipes, GFCF, GFCF Recipes, The Kids and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 1 Comment.

  1. Hi Karen, I did this yummy recipe adding 2 small sweet potatoes and 3 additional turnips (I’m loving turnips right now!), and because I thought half a cup of water wouldn’t be enough, I put one full cup. The result was just as good as you describe it! Thank you for sharing this recipe!

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