The lamb shank is the bottom part of the leg of lamb. It’s almost always removed from the upper portion. The meat is much tougher than the rest of the leg and that’s why braising low and slow is the way to go. But don’t be put off by talk of toughness. Braising this cut leaves you with meat that is soft and unctuous. And it’s very easy to cook as long as you take your time. Today’s lamb is often associated with Australia and New Zealand and a good deal of what’s on offer in the US is from those two prolific lamb countries. New Zealand famously has 20 sheep for every person. But like both Australia and New Zealand, lamb has been a staple of the English-speaking world’s diet for centuries. The shank however only starts appearing in recipes, other than ones for stock, around the time of World War I. While I can’t be sure, rationing may have cajoled cooks into discovering how to cook the shank right.
To prepare the lamb:
Sprinkle lamb shanks generously with salt and pepper; dust with flour. Heat oil in heavy large deep pot over medium-high heat. Working in 2 batches, if necessary, add lamb to pot and cook until browned on all sides, turning often, about 10 minutes per batch. Transfer lamb to large bowl.
Add onions, carrots, and celery to same pot; sauté until vegetables begin to soften, about 10 minutes.
Add garlic and tomato paste; stir 1 minute. Stir in broth, wine, parsley, thyme, and bay leaves. Return lamb to pot; bring to boil (liquid may not cover lamb completely). Reduce heat to medium-low; cover and simmer until lamb is very tender and begins to fall off bones, turning occasionally, about 3 hours.
Using immersion blender, puree pan juices until almost smooth. Season with salt and pepper. Return lamb shanks to pan juices.
Prepare the vegetables:
Meanwhile, melt butter in large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add all vegetables; sauté about 5 minutes. Season with salt and pepper.