Braised Lamb with Cannellini Beans and Lavender–Mint Gremolata

Adam Mali

Brasserie S&P at the Mandarin Oriental San Francisco

Gremolata, an Italian condiment made with garlic and herbs, suits up for spring in this recipe from San Francisco–based chef Adam Mali.


  • Lamb Shanks:
  • 4 small lamb shanks
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 3 ribs of celery, diced
  • 2 carrots, peeled and diced
  • 1 yellow onion, diced
  • 10 garlic cloves, diced
  • 3 cups red wine, preferably Zinfandel or Syrah
  • 8 cups beef stock
  • Salt to taste
  • 1 cup honey
  • 1/2 cup balsamic vinegar
  • 1/2 cup sherry vinegar
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1 bunch mint
  • 1 bunch thyme
  • 2 sprigs lavender leaves    
  • 1 sprig rosemary
  • Cannellini Beans:
  • 1 cup cannellini beans, soaked overnight in 4 cups water
  • Salt to taste
  • 1/4 teaspoon lemon juice
  • 1/4 teaspoon lemon zest
  • Olive oil as needed
  • 1 small garlic clove, finely minced
  • Small splash white wine
  • 4 sprigs thyme, minced
  • 1 sprig rosemary, minced
  • 2 tablespoons minced celery
  • 1 small bay leaf
  • Extra virgin olive oil as needed
  • Lavender–Mint Gremolata:
  • 1/2 lemon
  • 1 small garlic clove
  • 1/2 cup finely minced parsley
  • 1/4 cup finely minced lavender leaves
  • 1/4 cup finely minced mint


Make the lamb shanks: preheat the oven to 350ºF.

Heat a large Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Add the lamb shanks and brown evenly. (Depending on the size of your Dutch oven, you may need to work in batches.) Remove and set aside. Pour most of the fat out of the pot.  

Reduce the heat to medium. Add the olive oil and heat for a few minutes. Add the celery, carrots, and onions. Sauté until they begin to brown, about 5 to 7 minutes. Add the garlic and continue to cook for another 30 seconds. Add the wine and use a wooden spoon to scrape any browned bits off of the bottom of the pot. Bring to a boil. Reduce to a simmer and cook until the liquid is reduced by a third, about 7 minutes. Add the stock and the lamb shanks. (The shanks should be submerged in the liquids halfway.) Bring to a simmer. Cover and place in the oven. Braise for 4 hours. (After the first 2 hours, check to see if the liquid has evaporated. If it has, add enough water to keep the shanks halfway submerged in the water.) After the full 4 hours, the lamb should almost fall off the bone, but still hold its shape.

While the lamb is braising, make the beans: place the beans and their soaking water in a large pot. Bring to a boil, skimming any foam off the top. Reduce to a simmer and cook until soft, about an hour. Test the beans every 20 minutes—they should be soft but not falling apart. Remove from the heat. Add salt to taste. Stir in the lemon juice and zest.

Heat a little olive oil in small sauté pan over low heat. Add the garlic and sauté for 2 to 3 minutes. Do not let the garlic brown. Add the white wine. Add the garlic to the beans and stir. Add the thyme, rosemary, celery, and bay leaf; stir to combine. Cover and set aside for 1 hour. Refrigerate until needed.

Remove the lamb from the oven and let rest uncovered. Add salt to taste. Let cool completely, about 1 hour. As the lamb cools, fat will rise to the surface of the liquid. Gently skim off the fat and discard. Remove the lamb shanks from the pot and set aside.

Place the braising liquid on the stove and bring to a boil. Reduce to a simmer and cook until the liquid has reduced by half, about 15 minutes. Add the honey, balsamic vinegar, sherry vinegar, bay leaf, mint, thyme, lavender, and rosemary. Remove from the heat and reserve.

Make the gremolata: bring a small pot of water to a boil. Add the lemon and garlic. Cook for 30 seconds, then remove from the pot. Dry off the lemon and zest it. Dry off the garlic and finely mince. Let sit for 30 minutes. Combine the zest and garlic with the parsley, lavender, and mint in a medium bowl. Reserve.

Heat some olive oil in a large sauté pan over medium heat. Add the beans to the pan and cook until the liquid thickens, about 10 to 15 minutes.

Return the lamb shanks to the braising liquid and heat through, about 15 minutes.

To serve, divide the beans among 4 serving dishes. Top each serving with a lamb shank and drizzle with some braising liquid. Sprinkle the gremolata over each lamb shank.


4 servings