Edward Lee, chef-owner chef at Louisville’s 610 Magnolia, gave a bourbon-spiked lamb shank recipe to Gourmet magazine for a 2008 story on Lee. A somewhat dumbed-down version of the recipe follows. I love it because it is a) indescribably delicious, b) tastes good cooked ahead, c) is easy and d) freezes well. This recipe calls for lamb shoulder, which is meatier than shanks and, like shanks, cooks to fall-off-the-bone tender when simmered slowly in liquid (making it a good candidate for the Crock-Pot). I have also made this recipe with shanks and with beef chuck. There’s lots of brothy sauce; don’t expect thick gravy. But do serve something to soak up the sauce. The original recipe, which Lee served with grits, can be found http://www.epicurious.com/recipes/food/views/Lamb-Shank-Ragu-with-Anson-Mills-Grits-355529 Sometimes lamb shoulder comes bone-in. Use that or boneless in this recipe; the bone will fall out easily at the end of cooking.
March 01, 2011


  1. Cut the lamb into 6 or 8 chunks, pat it dry and season with kosher salt (about a teaspoon) and ¼ teaspoon pepper. Heat 2 tablespoons oil in a 5-quart heavy pot over medium-high heat until it shimmers. Brown shoulder on all sides until it is deeply colored. Transfer to absorbent towels.
  2. Add remaining oil to pot with onion and celery. Cook 10 minutes over medium heat, stirring occasionally, then add garlic and stir. Cook 5 minutes, stirring once or twice. Add tomato sauce, dried tomatoes, fennel seed, thyme, red pepper flakes, chicken stock, bourbon, vinegar, Worcestershire, soy and honey.
  3. Return lamb to the pot. Cover pot and simmer until tender, 3 to 3½ hours. (You may also transfer all the ingredients to a slow cooker and cook on low all day).
  4. If the meat has not been boned, remove and discard bone now (it will come out easily). Remove meat and set aside. Skim any fat from the liquid and return meat to the broth.
  5. Serve with bread, noodles, grits or smashed potatoes. Leftovers freeze and reheat beautifully.


  • 4- to 6-pound lamb shoulder
  • Kosher salt
  • Freshly ground pepper
  • ¼ cup olive oil, divided
  • 1 medium onion, chopped (about 1 cup)
  • 1 rib celery (about ½ cup)
  • 2 large garlic cloves, chopped
  • 1 cup tomato sauce (or so)
  • 2 tablespoons finely chopped dried tomatoes
  • 1 teaspoon fennel seed
  • 1 teaspoon dried thyme
  • ½ teaspoon hot red pepper flakes
  • ½ teaspoon hot red pepper flakes
  • 3 cups chicken stock or reduced-sodium chicken broth
  • 1 cup bourbon
  • ½ tablespoon cider vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 teaspoon soy sauce
  • 1 teaspoon mild honey
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