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What Part of the Lamb Is the Shank?

What Part of the Lamb Is the Shank?

Lamb shank is one of the most delicious cuts on the animal, especially when it’s cooked the right way. The connective tissue gives the lamb most of its flavor.

However, most people do not consider what part of the animal lamb shank is.

If you want to sound like a lamb expert, you should know where lamb shank comes from.

What Part of the Lamb Is the Shank?

In short, the lamb shank is fabricated from the lamb’s shin. Specifically, the lamb shank is cut from the bottom part of the leg right beneath the knee.

Lamb shanks are one of the tougher cuts on the animal. However, the shank transforms into a flavorful, tender, and juicy cut of lamb when cooked.

The connective tissue breaks down, developing a succulent, soft lamb that literally falls off the bone.

In addition to connective tissues, the shank meat contains a lot of tendons and collagen.

The shank is one of the least expensive cuts on the animal, which is why it is so popular. It is usually sold Frenched.

Frenched simply means a portion of the meat was removed, leaving behind a clean, neat bone.

Therefore, the fat on the end portion of the shank bone is scraped away with a knife to reveal a beautiful, appealing bone.

The shank gets used quite often, hence its tough nature. For this reason, lamb shanks are better suited to low and slow cooking methods.

Is Lamb Shank the Same as Leg of Lamb?

A leg of lamb is not the same as a lamb shank. However, they are often lumped in the same category because they both originate from the animal’s leg.

However, a lamb shank is the portion of the leg that’s right above the knee.

In addition to this, lamb shank contains less meat. The shank also contains more sinewy muscle fibers than a leg of lamb.

In contrast, the leg of lamb comes from the back legs of the lamb. Leg of lamb is next to lamb sirloin and lamb flank.

What Do Lamb Shanks Taste Like?

Lamb is well-known for its gamey flavor. However, lamb shanks have a gamier flavor than loin or shoulder chops. 

Additionally, depending on where the lambs were raised, there may also be slight differences in flavor.

For example, American lamb shanks have a subtle gamey flavor because they are grain-finished.

In contrast, Australian lamb shanks have a stronger gamey flavor because they are finished differently.

How To Cook Lamb Shanks

All this talk about lamb shanks is sure to make you hungry. So therefore, I thought I’d show you how to cook lamb.

The robust gamey flavor of lamb shanks pairs well with marinades.

Shanks also pair well with aromatic vegetables such as lemon peel, garlic, ginger, onions, thyme, rosemary, and fennel.

Lamb shanks are versatile since they can be braised on the stove top, slow-cooked, baked, or in a pressure cooker or Instant Pot.

The fact that lamb shanks become tender after hours of cooking accounts for its versatility. However, braising is the most popular way to prepare lamb shanks.

Beef stock and tomato sauce are the most popular braising liquids for lamb shanks. However, you can also add chicken broth or water as a braising liquid.

You can braise lamb shanks on the stovetop or in the oven.

However, you must sear the lamb shanks first. Add a bit of olive oil to a Dutch oven and set it over medium-high heat.

Next, season the lamb shanks liberally with salt and pepper and add the shanks to the hot pot.

Sear the lamb shanks for 3-5 minutes on all sides until they are golden brown. Remove the lamb shanks from the pot, then place them onto a plate.

Add onions, garlic, carrots, herbs, fennel, or any aromatics to the same pot and cook them for 2-3 minutes until they soften.

If you want the shanks to have a stew-like consistency, add 1-2 tablespoons of flour to the vegetables and cook them for 1-2 minutes.

Next, add liquids such as beef stock, tomato sauce, or red wine.

Place the seared lamb shanks back into the Dutch oven and more fresh herbs if desired.

If you cook the shanks on the stove, turn the heat low and cook it for 1-2 hours until the meat is fork-tender.

If you are cooking the lamb shanks in the oven, place them in the oven, and cook them at 350°F for 2 1/2 hours.

Final Thoughts

Lamb shanks are one of the most flavorful cuts on the animal. Now that you know what part of the lamb shanks come from, you will savor every bite of lamb shank.