Saba-Braised Lamb Shanks


If you're looking for a foolproof, wintry braised meat dish, this is virtually impossible to screw up! The only way to screw this up is to undercook the meat. The sauce has no thickeners, just pure 100% natural goodness.

Prep Time:
20 mins
Cook Time:
3 hrs 30 mins
Total Time:
3 hrs 50 mins
4 servings


  • 4 lamb shanks

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil

  • 2 teaspoons kosher salt

  • 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

  • 1 teaspoon smoked paprika

  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

  • ½ teaspoon dried rosemary

  • 1 large onion, sliced

  • 6 cloves garlic, crushed

  • 1 cup chicken broth

  • cup saba

  • ½ teaspoon chopped fresh rosemary


  1. Preheat oven to 450 degrees F (230 degrees C).

  2. Place lamb shanks into a large bowl; drizzle with olive oil. Sprinkle with salt, black pepper, smoked paprika, cinnamon, and rosemary. Toss the lamb shanks to spread oil and seasonings over the meat.

  3. Spread onion slices and garlic cloves into the bottom of a heavy 9x12-inch baking dish. Lay lamb shanks over onions and garlic.

  4. Bake lamb in preheated oven for 30 minutes. Reduce oven temperature to 200 degrees F (95 degrees C).

  5. Combine chicken broth and saba in a bowl. Pour mixture over the lamb shanks. Cover baking dish tightly with foil and place baking dish on a baking sheet.

  6. Bake lamb in the oven until a knife pierces the meat easily, 2 1/2 to 3 hours. The meat will be tender but not falling off the bone. Use tongs to turn the shanks over in the pan sauce. Increase temperature to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C).

  7. Return shanks to oven and bake, uncovered, until meat is fork-tender and the sauce has thickened slightly, 10 to 15 minutes. Turn shanks over in the sauce after 10 minutes and check for tenderness; if still not tender enough, return to oven for 10 to 15 more minutes and test again.

  8. Transfer lamb shanks to a bowl and keep warm. Strain pan juices into a saucepan and place over medium heat. Bring to a boil and cook, stirring often, until thickened, about 5 minutes. Skim any excess grease from top of sauce. Taste and season with salt; stir in fresh rosemary. Serve sauce drizzled over lamb shanks.

Cook's Notes:

Saba, or "mosto cotto", is a kind of cooked grape juice--a sweet syrup made with the remnants ("must") from the winemaking process. It's similar to an aged balsamic vinegar. You can find it very easily online or at a fancy cheese or gourmet shop.

You can substitute an aged balsamic vinegar for the saba.

Nutrition Facts (per serving)

334 Calories
21g Fat
10g Carbs
26g Protein
Nutrition Facts
Servings Per Recipe 4
Calories 334
% Daily Value *
Total Fat 21g 26%
Saturated Fat 7g 37%
Cholesterol 82mg 27%
Sodium 1035mg 45%
Total Carbohydrate 10g 4%
Dietary Fiber 2g 5%
Total Sugars 2g
Protein 26g
Vitamin C 5mg 24%
Calcium 38mg 3%
Iron 3mg 14%
Potassium 408mg 9%

* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2,000 calorie diet. Your daily values may be higher or lower depending on your calorie needs.

** Nutrient information is not available for all ingredients. Amount is based on available nutrient data.

(-) Information is not currently available for this nutrient. If you are following a medically restrictive diet, please consult your doctor or registered dietitian before preparing this recipe for personal consumption.

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