Recipe Corner: Armenian Lamb Shank Dinner for Four


Douglas Kalajian, author of Stories My Father Never Finished Telling Me, shares his favorite lamb shank recipe with Armenian Mirror-Spectator readers.*


4 meaty lamb shanks, trim off fat

1 large onion, coarsely chopped

4 carrots, cut into chunks

3 celery stalks, coarsely chopped

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3-4 garlic cloves, peeled and coarsely chopped

3-4 tablespoons olive oil

3 bay leaves

3 to 4 cups homemade lamb broth (water or low-sodium beef broth may be used)

Salt and pepper


Day 1: Parboil shanks in a large pot of lightly salted water for about 2 hours. The water should almost cover the shanks. By doing this, the cooking time is cut down on serving day, and you’ll end up with a large bowl of lamb broth for future recipes – soup, lamb and string bean stew, or whatever you are inspired to prepare.

Note: Cool the broth and place it in a large bowl. Cover and refrigerate overnight. The next day, skim off any fat that rises to the top and discard. Use some of the broth to prepare the shanks; the remaining broth can be stored in containers and placed in the freezer for future recipes.

Day 2 – Serving Day:

Sauté the onions, carrots, celery and garlic in olive oil in a pot large enough to hold the shanks, vegetables and broth. Add the shanks, bay leaves, broth and seasonings to taste.

Place a cover on the pot in a tilted position; bring to a boil, then reduce the heat to simmer. Simmer shanks for about 1 to 1 1/2 hours. Check periodically to ensure there is still enough liquid to prevent burning. Adjust seasonings, if necessary.

Remove bay leaves. Once done, the tender, falling-off-the-bone lamb, can be served in individual bowls over a bed of buttered noodles with plenty of vegetables and cooking liquid from the pot. Armenian rice or bulgur pilaf would be an ideal accompaniment in place of the noodles.

Crusty bread or garlic bread (for dipping into the juices) and a tossed green salad make for a very satisfying and traditional lamb shank dinner.

What to do with leftover meat from the shanks:

Note: Larger leftover meat pieces may be shredded and added to a string bean stew, while smaller bits of leftovers may be turned into a breakfast hash with an egg on top.

Add 1/2 to 1 cup red wine depending on the number of lamb shanks. Also, add a 15 oz. can of diced or crushed tomatoes with liquid and dried herbs, such as oregano and thyme, depending on the amount of meat.

Serves 4.

Douglas Kalajian

*Douglas Kalajian is a retired editor/journalist and sous chef at His career in newspapers took off in the fading days of manual typewriters and touched down in the digital age. As an editor, reporter and feature writer for the Palm Beach Post and the Miami Herald, he enjoyed a front-row view of South Florida’s explosive growth and equally explosive crime and corruption over three decades. His first book, Snow Blind, grew out of a front-page story about a brilliant young public defender whose ideals and health fell victim to the region’s cocaine insanity in the 1980s. After retiring from newspapers, Kalajian co-authored They Had No Voice: My Fight for Alabama’s Forgotten Children. His latest book, Stories My Father Never Finished Telling Me, is a memoir about growing up in the shadow of the Armenian Genocide. His wife, Robyn Kalajian, is a retired culinary teacher and chief cook at Together as a husband-wife team, they publish The Armenian Kitchen.

To order Stories My Father Never Finished Telling Me: Living with the Armenian Legacy of Loss and Silence, go to:


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