If juicy, succulent meat that is full of flavour is what you are all about then welcome to my world! These smoked lamb shanks are one of my favourite things to smoke on my BBQ. Tons of flavour, fancy enough to serve for a dinner party but manly enough for your BBQ buds too!
Why I Love This Recipe
- Everything on the BBQ tastes better
- Perfect for a group or dinner party
- Smoked lamb is great to freeze
I have 4 barbeques, no wait 5............ For those who know me, they will know that cooking on my BBQ is one of my favourite ways to cook! Less clean up on your BBQ too 😉 When you smoke lamb shanks not only do you add TONS of extra flavour but it allows you to cook the meat fully through for those afraid of medium-rare food but it also keeps them super juicy too!
Smoked lamb shanks freeze really well too - just pull the meat from the bone and once cooled store it in a ziplock bag or vacuum bag and it will keep for months in the freezer.
Smoking meat such as lamb shanks, lamb shoulder or pork is a great way to feed a crowd. Stick the meat on early in the day and let your smoked do the rest. When it comes to dinner you can feed 10, 20 or even 30ppl easily!
For smoked lamb shanks, you will need only a few ingredients. Your BBQ is prob the main one (other than lamb!) and then after that either your favourite BBQ rub or you can make your own homemade one. I recommend using Lane's BBQ rubs if you don't want to make the rub yourself. Below is a list of what I used to make my homemade one and if you, like me have a decent spice cupboard then you can whip a rub up in moments!
- herbs - I used fresh rosemary & thyme as I have it growing but dried herb will also work
- spices - cayenne, garlic powder, salt & smoked paprika were the spices of choice
- lamb shanks - I used 4 x 500g shanks to feed 4 -6 people (appetite depending!)
- wine - well everything is better with wine so why not decant a bottle and enjoy during the process!
As I said, you could substitute your favourite store-bought BBQ rub instead. I used olive oil to rub onto the lamb before applying the rub
How To Smoke Lamb Shanks
The all-important question! It wouldn't be a smoked lamb shanks recipe without knowing how to smoke lamb now, would it?
Setting up your BBQ/smoker
Let's start with your BBQ setup. The key to smoking lamb or any other meat is your set-up. You need to cook on indirect heat, which means the meat isn't directly over the heat source - much like your oven! I used a Masterbuilt BBQ from Barbeques Galore but the same principle works for any smoker. For a kettle BBQ set it up using the snake method. This allows the coals to slowly burn and keep your BBQ temperature at a lower heat. Using a smoker you would adopt the minion method to light your coals. Using the masterbuilt you just need to place the lamb shanks on the racks away from the direct heat.
Preparing the meat
This step is pretty easy when it comes to lamb shanks. All you need to do is mix your rub together and rub the meat with something to help bind the rub to the meat. I used oil but mustard also works too.
Now this might get a little tricky - I know it's called a BBQ rub but when applying it you want to gently pat the rub onto the lamb shanks and not rub it in. I sprinkle from a height to get an even coating and then if necessary apply a gentle pat. If you rub it in you actually can clog the pores (sounds gross!) which stop the flavour from penetrating the meat. Jeepers, anyone reading this and not knowing what I am referring to will find the use of verbiage quite questionable!
Smoking Lamb Shanks
The hard work is pretty much done! Next, you set your BBQ to about 120-130c and let it pretty much do the rest of the job for you! I use cherrywood or pecan for smoking lamb but once again use whatever you prefer. Place the meat on indirect heat and let it slowly smoke away - no peeking now as that will make the smoke disappear and leave you with less of a smoke flavour! After 1 hour I spritz the lamb shanks with some water - this helps the smoke to bind to the meat giving you that beautiful red hue you see around the meat.
Smoked lamb shanks will take anywhere from 3-4 hours to cook. Once the meat gets to about 70c you might find it takes another 30 minutes to go up even 1c - this is called the stall. Don't worry, it's a common thing. At this stage, wrap the meat in foil with a little butter and honey and place it back on the BBQ.
You are looking for an internal temperature of just over 90c for them to be cooked perfectly. However use the temperature as a guide - the key to doneness is through probing. A probe should glide through like butter. Once you are at this point then remove the meat from the BBQ, wrap in an old towel and leave to rest in a cooler/esky for 30 minutes up to 2 hours!
The final step is to put on a pair of gloves and another pair of black latex gloves on top and pull the meat from the bone - job done! Enjoy your smoked lamb shanks 😉
What To Serve With Smoked Lamb
Smoked lamb shanks are cracking in a burger, wrapped in a tortilla/pita, as a hash for brekkie or brunch but my favourite way at the moment to serve them is with some cheesy polenta, and anchovy salsa and a little pangrattato for texture! All of these 3 components may sound "fancy" or complicated BUT they can all be made in the 30 minutes that the lamb shanks are resting. Alternatively, the pangrattato and anchovy salsa can all be made in advance.
Pangrattato, aka fancy breadcrumbs with nuts! For this, I blitz up some old bread, add grated lemon zest, dried herbs, salt, chilli flakes and olive oil. Toss to combine and bake at 180c for 10 minutes - stirring halfway. Once golden brown and crispy add your chopped nuts (I used almonds) and store in an airtight container. Great to sprinkle on pasta dishes like my beef cheek ragu!
A quick and easy salsa. You can make this to order or a few hours in advance. The longer it sits in the fridge (say overnight) it will lose its green colour so I suggest making it on the day. Grab your ingredients - anchovies, capers, garlic, parsley, lemon & oil and blitz them up in a mini food processor!
Cheesy polenta - one of my favourite ways to eat polenta. To do this, heat your milk with garlic & bay in a saucepan. Remove the bay and gradually add the polenta to the heated milk - stirring continuously! As the polenta starts to thicken add your grated cheese, mascarpone and whisk until the polenta is a semi-firm consistency. Got some leftover? No stress, you can reheat the polenta by putting it in a saucepan and adding a little more milk or butter.
Tips, Tricks & FAQ's
The shank refers to a piece of meat that comes from the lower section of the lamb's leg. The front (fore) or back (hind) legs of the lamb. I used the fore shanks in this recipe - they are typically smaller than the hind and come as a whole piece. Hind shanks are often "frenched" meaning the meat is removed from the upper part of the bone
I use 2 methods for this. One is a probe for temperature. You want the internal temperature to be about 90-93c but the best way once you hit 90c is to probe the meat and see how easily the probe slides in. You want it to feel like it's pushing through butter - very little resistance.
100% - smoked lamb shanks and any smoked meat is ideal for freezing. I portion mine, vacuum pack it and date it before freezing. That way you can whip it out of the freezer any day and have a delicious smoked lamb shanks dinner.
Firstly, defrost it! Then, the methods I use are as follows! Reheat it in the oven, covered at a low temperature, say 150c with either a little water or BBQ sauce to retain its moisture. Use a sous vide (fancy pants!) to reheat it. Finally, in a saucepan with some sauce or in the frying pan with BBQ sauce and a load of chopped vegetables - pulled lamb hash!
It wouldn't be dinner in AnotherFoodBloggers house without an appropriate wine pairing now, would it? This recipe was created with Mollydooker 'The Boxer' wine in mind and I'm not gonna lie - I think I nailed it 😉
The Boxer, as it should packs a good punch! 15.5% alcohol an abundance of fruit, beautiful oak notes from the 100% American oak used (a mixture of old and new). Being a 2019 Shiraz it's young but once you go that famous dooker shake it really helps bring the wine alive! I decanted mine for an hour and I was rewarded with a delicious wine full of licorice, plum, blackberries, vanilla from the oak, velvety tannins, balanced acidity and a load of moreish. Once drunk alongside the smoked lamb shanks the 15.5% alcohol is barely noticed at all. It really is/was a cracking pairing.
My advice is to enjoy this wine now and over the next 3 years! For $30 a bottle it is real value for money!
Alternative Lamb Recipes
Inspired by this delicious smoked lamb shanks recipe? Then check out these other lamb recipes you can find on my site!
Happy Cooking & Happy Eating Friends!!
- 4 lamb shanks 500g each
- 1 tbsp oil
- 1 tbsp thyme finely chopped
- 1 tbsp rosemary finely chopped
- 1 tsp salt
- 1 tsp garlic powder
- 2 tsp smoked paprika
- 1/2 tsp cayenne
- 200 g bread
- 1 lemon zested
- 1 tsp chili flakes
- 1 tsp salt
- 2 tsp olive oil
- 30 g chopped almonds
- 1 tsp oregano
- 1/2 cup polenta
- 40 g butter
- 2 clove crushed garlic
- 1 bayleaf
- 2 cups milk
- 1/4 cup Parmesan cheese grated
- 1/2 cup mascarpone
Anchovy Caper Dressing
- 1 clove garlic
- 1/2 cup parsley
- 3 anchovies
- 2 tsp capers
- 1 tbsp lemon juice
- 150 ml olive oil
- Chef Knives
- Chopping board
- food processor
- baking tray
- Measuring utensils
- Mix all the rub ingredients together
- Rub the lamb in oil and apply the rub to the lamb
- Smoke on indirect heat @ 120-130c for 4 hours (I used pecan wood but use whatever your preference is).
- After one hour spritz the lamb with water *see tips*
- Once the lamb has an internal temperature of about 75c (takes approx. 3 hours) wrap the shanks in tinfoil with a knob of butter and place back on the BBQ until the internal temperature is about 90c or you can place a probe through the meat like it’s butter *see tips*
- Remove the meat from the BBQ , wrap in a towel and place in an esky/cooler bag for 30 minutes to rest *see tips*
- Lamb should pull off the bone easily at this stage
Pangrattato (can be made in advance)
- Place the bread into a food processor and blitz until you have breadcrumbs – I like to leave some of the pieces a little larger for texture
- Add all ingredients (except almonds) to a bowl, toss and combine
- Bake @ 150c for approx. 10 minutes or until golden brown *see tip*
- Add chopped almonds, allow to cool and store in an airtight container for up to 1 month
Anchovy Dressing (can be made in advance)
- Place all ingredients (except oil) in a small food processor, gradually add oil and blend until a salsa consistency adding more oil if desired.
- Taste and adjust seasoning as necessary *see tips*
Polenta (cook as someone else is pulling the lamb)
- Warm the milk with the bayleaf and garlic on a low heat until simmering
- Remove the bayleaf and slowly add the polenta in – whisking all the time. Cook the polenta on a low heat for 4 minutes
- Add the parmesan cheese, butter & mascarpone and cook for a further 2-3 minutes until the polenta is a semi-firm consistency
- I used a homemade rub for the lamb but you can use your favourite BBQ rub if you have one •
- I spritz the lamb with water as the moisture helps the smoke to stick to the meat giving you the nice smoke ring/flavour
- when cooking low n slow temperatures are given as a guideline – you will be able to touch and feel the meat to see if it’s soft, juicy and ready to be pulled. Sometimes you need to cook it for a further degree or 2
- cooking times can vary when cooking low n slow but typically lamb shanks take around 4 hours to smoke – these shanks were all 500g
- allow the meat to rest so all the juices redistribute. We wrap the meat in foil and a towel so it keeps its temperature. You can rest the meat for 1-2 hours if wrapped correctly and placed in a cooler
- when making breadcrumbs keep an eye on them as the cooking time comes to an end as they can burn quickly
- when making the anchovy dressing we don’t add salt in until the end (if at all) as anchovies and capers are naturally salty