Braised Lamb Shanks

Recipe by Ryan Studebaker, Executive Chef, Gingham

Chef Studebaker likes lamb shanks’ “gamey” flavor.
  • Chef Studebaker likes lamb shanks’ “gamey” flavor.


8384 La Mesa Boulevard, La Mesa

When the opportunity to work at Gingham presented itself I grabbed it. The menu features fun and simple Southern food prepared with classical French techniques and it matches my background perfectly. My grandmother is from Arkansas and I grew up with her homemade biscuits and gravy and a love for the land. My uncle raised cattle for the family, most of our produce came from our garden, and my dad ran a restaurant.

I started washing dishes in my dad’s restaurant when I was 13 and moved to San Diego when I was 19. I worked with Stephane Voitzwinkler at Bertrand at Mr. A’s, who took me under his wing and taught me classical French techniques. I credit him and Ryan Johnston of Whisknladle with where I am in my kitchen right now. Instead of braising short ribs with a traditional red wine, I’ll do it up with bourbon and pickled onion and breadcrumbs. I roast and sauté food with traditional techniques but I use local beer and tequila and all those great Southern flavors of molasses and peaches and jalapeños. Some of my favorites are mac and cheese with bourbon and corn with chorizo.

At home, I love to grill; there are fewer dishes to do after dinner that way. I cook all sorts of things on the grill, but on a special occasion I’ll pick lamb shank. It’s easy to get but it has that great gamey flavor of the venison I ate when I was growing up. There aren’t a lot of meats out there like that. You can serve them with an arugula, peach-and-quinoa salad, cheddar grits, or mashed potatoes


Serves 8

  • 8 lamb shanks
  • salt and pepper to season
  • olive oil to season
  • 1 bunch fresh thyme, leaves only
  • 1 orange — zest only
  • 2 Fresno chilies, sliced (can substitute with jalapeños)
  • 8 cups mirepoix (2 cups each of diced carrots, celery, and 4 cups diced onion)
  • ¾ cup peeled garlic cloves
  • ½ cup tomato paste
  • 24 ounces Hefeweizen
  • 6 ounces orange juice
  • 4 quarts chicken stock
  • 4 quarts vegetable stock


Season lamb shanks with salt, pepper, thyme, orange zest, Fresno chilies, and olive oil and let marinate in the refrigerator overnight. After the lamb has marinated, wipe the herbs and orange peel from the meat and reserve. Preheat the oven to 300 degrees.

Heat about a quarter cup of olive oil in a large fry pan over medium-high heat and sear lamb shanks on all sides until brown. Sauté in batches to avoid overcrowding. Set seared lamb aside. Heat an additional 2 tablespoons of olive oil in a large stockpot and add the mirepoix. Sauté until vegetables are caramelized. Add chilies and garlic to the pan and stir until they are cooked through. Add tomato paste and sauté briefly. Add orange juice and beer and cook until the liquid is reduced by one third. Add stocks and bring to a boil.

Place lamb shanks in a large roasting pan. Pour the liquid over the lamb and cover with parchment paper. Roast the lamb for three hours. Check every 45 minutes and add more stock if liquid gets too low. Once the lamb is fork-tender, remove some of the braising liquid and reduce by one third, then stir in a bit of butter. This gives the sauce a nice consistency.

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