Southwest Braised American Lamb Shanks in Adobo Sauce


June 29, 2022

Recipe provided by Southwest Braised Lamb Shanks In Adobo Sauce - Shared Appetite, courtesy of the American Lamb Board (Southwest Braised American Lamb Shanks in Adobo Sauce | American Lamb).


6 American lamb shanks (about 4 lbs)

2 tbsp Olive or canola oil

8 cloves Garlic, minced

4 Dried ancho chilis, stemmed & seeded

4 cup Orange juice

2 tbsp Brown sugar

1 tbsp Dried oregano

2 tbsp Apple cider vinegar

2 tsp Kosher salt

2 tsp Ground cumin

1 tsp Ancho chili powder

1 tsp Freshly ground black pepper

1/2 tsp Ground cinnamon

1/8 tsp Ground cloves

2 Dried bay leaves

Creamy Cheddar Jalapeno Polenta

Cilantro, garnish

Creamy Cheddar Jalapeno Polenta

3 tbsp Butter

1 cup Corn kernels

2 Jalapenos, minced

1 cup Whole milk

2-3 cups Water

1 cup Cornmeal (medium grind)

1 tbsp Extra-virgin olive oil

1 cup Sharp white cheddar cheese, shredded

Kosher salt & freshly ground black pepper


1Preheat oven to 325°F. Sprinkle lamb shanks generously with Kosher salt. Heat oil in a heavy, large pot over medium-high heat and sear lamb shanks (in batches if necessary) on all sides until deep golden brown, about 3 minutes per side. Remove shanks and set aside.

2Lower heat to medium low and add garlic and ancho chiles. Stir constantly until garlic is fragrant, about 30 seconds. Add orange juice, oregano, vinegar, salt, cumin, ancho chile powder, black pepper, cinnamon, cloves, and bay leaves. Stir to combine, bring to a boil, then reduce heat to maintain a simmer for about 10 minutes.

3Using an immersion blender (or letting adobo mixture cool slightly and then carefully transferring mixture to a regular blender), puree until very smooth. Add adobo sauce back to pot and nestle lamb shanks in sauce in a single layer. Lamb shanks should be covered at least half way with sauce, so add some water if needed (I didn’t need it, but it depends upon the size of your pot).

4Cover the pot with a lid and cook in oven for 1 hour. Remove from oven, turn lamb shanks, and cook for 1 additional hour without the lid. If meat is very tender at this point, it’s done! If not, allow to cook for an additional 30-60 minutes.

5Transfer braised lamb shanks to a platter and top with adobo sauce. Sprinkle with cilantro and serve with Cheddar Jalapeno Polenta.

Creamy Cheddar Jalapeno Polenta

1Melt butter in a small skillet over medium heat. Add corn and minced jalapeno and cook until softened, about 5 minutes. Remove from heat and set aside.

2Bring the milk, 2 cups of the water, and a very large pinch of salt to a boil in a medium saucepan. Reduce heat to a low simmer and add cornmeal in a slow and steady stream, constantly whisking to prevent lumps and avoid the polenta bubbling violently.

3Polenta should be at a bare simmer, and cook for 8-12 minutes, stirring occasionally. If the mixture gets too thick (mine always does), add water, ½ cup at a time. I ended up doing this twice.

4Remove polenta from heat, stir in the corn/jalapeno mixture, olive oil, and cheddar cheese. Season with Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper.

If needed, you can braise the lamb shanks ahead of time, allow to cool and refrigerate for one day. Reheat covered with lid in 325°F oven until lamb is heated through.