How to Cook Frozen Lamb Shanks: A Comprehensive Guide
Lamb shanks are an excellent choice for a special dinner or get-together with friends and family. When properly cooked, lamb shanks can be tender, flavorful, and an impressive entrée for any meal. Many people opt for frozen lamb shanks because of their convenience and ease of preparation. Though cooking frozen meat has often been thought of as a risky option, it can actually be an effective method of cooking if done correctly.
In this comprehensive guide, we will take you through every step necessary to cook delicious and succulent lamb shanks from frozen. We’ll cover preparation, cooking methods, tips and tricks for achieving that perfect tenderness, and even some recommended side dishes.
Preparing Frozen Lamb Shanks Before Cooking
The first step in successfully preparing any frozen food is properly thawing it. This rule applies to frozen lamb shanks too; you must thaw them thoroughly before cooking to ensure even cooking throughout the meat. You have three options when it comes to thawing your frozen lamb shanks:
- Refrigerator thawing
- Cold water submersion
- Microwave thawing
The best recommended method is refrigerator thawing. Refrigerator thawing allows for safe and gradual thawing without running the risk of bacteria growth or spoiling the meat during the process. To do this, simply place the frozen lamb shanks on a dish or tray in the refrigerator for at least 24 hours before cooking. Ensure the meat is completely wrapped or covered to avoid any contamination from other foods in your fridge.
For the cold water submersion method, fill a large bowl with cold water and immerse the frozen lamb shanks in it until they are completely submerged. Change the water every 30 minutes to maintain a consistently safe and cold temperature. This process can take around two to three hours, depending on how thick your lamb shank is.
If time is a concern and you need to thaw in a hurry, use the microwave thawing method. To do this, place the frozen lamb shanks on a microwave-safe plate and defrost at 70% power for five minutes, flipping the meat halfway through. Repeat the process until they are fully defrosted, but be careful not to overcook them.
Once you have thawed your frozen lamb shanks, prepare them by seasoning with salt, pepper, and any other spices you like. You can also marinate your lamb shanks for added flavor and tenderness before cooking.
Methods for Cooking Frozen Lamb Shanks
Now that you’ve thawed your lamb shanks and seasoned them to taste let’s explore some of the best cooking methods for achieving a succulent dish that will impress your family or guests.
Oven roasting is one of the easiest ways to cook lamb shanks from frozen. This method produces a beautifully browned crust on the outside while maintaining tender meat on the inside. Here are some steps on how to roast lamb shanks in an oven:
- Preheat your oven to 375°F (190°C).
- Place seasoned lamb shanks in a baking pan or casserole dish large enough for all pieces.
- Add vegetables such as onions, carrots, and celery for added flavor.
- Cover the dish with foil or a lid and bake for two hours or until internal temperatures reach between 145°F-160°F (63°C-71°C).
- After two hours remove the cover or foil and leave in the oven for another 30 minutes to allow the lamb shanks to brown.
Pressure cooking is a truly excellent way to cook frozen lamb shanks. This method requires less time than oven roasting but still produces flavorful and tender results. To prepare your lamb shanks with a pressure cooker, follow these steps:
- Preheat your pressure cooker by placing it on medium heat and add oil.
- Add the seasoned lamb shanks and sear them on each side until brown on both sides.
- Add vegetables or other liquids to the pot.
- Bring the pressure cooker up to full pressure (15 PSI), reduce heat, and cook for 35-40 minutes.
- Release pressure, remove lid carefully, and ensure temperature reads between 145°F-160°F (63°C-71°C).
Slow cooking lamb shanks is a great option for those who love convenience, ease, and tenderness all in one dish. Although the method takes longer than oven roasting or pressure cooking but produces melt-in-the-mouth results. Follow these steps:
- In a slow cooker, place your lamb shanks along with other flavorings like herbs, garlic or onions.
- Cover with stock or broth until the liquid level reaches about halfway up the Shanks.
- Cook on low for six – eight hours ensuring internal temperatures reach between145°F-160°F (63°C-71°C).
Smoking lamb shanks is an advanced technique that requires some preparation but will yield amazing flavor surprise at your dinner party. Here are a few steps on how to smoke lamb shanks:
- Prepare your smoker with seasoned wood chips and preheat to around 250°F (121°C).
- Season the lamb shanks to taste and place them on the smoker’s rack.
- Cover and smoke for around three – four hours.
- Check the internal temperature of the lamb shanks and ensure they read between145°F-160°F (63°C-71°C), then remove them carefully from the smoker.
- Leave them to rest for at least ten minutes before carving them and serving.
Tips & Tricks on How to Cook Frozen Lamb Shanks Perfectly
We’ve outlined some cooking methods above, but there are several tips and tricks that can apply across all methods to get that perfect tenderness in your lamb shank:
Monitor Internal Temperatures: Temperature monitoring is a crucial part of cooking meat, especially when it comes to frozen lamb shanks. We recommend using a good-quality meat thermometer or probe to monitor your lamb’s temperature throughout cooking.
Basting Tips: Basting is an effective way of adding moisture and flavor to your lamb shanks while keeping them tender. Try basting with butter or stock during the last thirty minutes of cooking time for that perfect succulent flavor.
Resting the Meat: Resting meat is vital in producing excellent results. After removing lamb shanks from heat, let them rest for about ten minutes. This time allows juices to redistribute throughout the meat, ensuring a moister texture.
Now that you have successfully cooked frozen lamb shanks let’s explore some side dishes that will pair well; try serving up with creamy mashed potatoes or garlic butter green beans. Another option you can consider is to pair them with roasted veggies such as carrots and brussel sprouts for that perfect finish-up to your meal.
Cooking frozen lamb shanks can be both convenient and a great way of enjoying this tasty piece of meat. We’ve gone through each step necessary for great results: thawing your lamb shanks, preparation, cooking methods, tips, tricks, and even added some suggested side dishes. Now it’s time to put what you’ve learned in practice and impress your guests or family with this succulent dish.
Remember always to be consistent with temperature checks and seasoning as these are critical elements in bringing out the best flavor in lamb shanks. So, there’s no need to worry about preparing dinner on short notice—grab those frozen lamb shanks from your freezer today and try out one of the cooking methods we’ve outlined above—your taste buds will thank you!
Frequently Asked Questions
Can I cook frozen lamb shanks without thawing them first?
Yes, you can. However, it will take longer to cook frozen lamb shanks than if they were thawed. To ensure even cooking, add extra time to the recipe and monitor the internal temperature of the meat with a meat thermometer.
What is the best method for cooking frozen lamb shanks?
The best method for cooking frozen lamb shanks is braising or slow-cooking. Start by browning the shanks in a hot pan before transferring them to a Dutch oven or slow cooker with broth and vegetables. Cook on low heat until the meat is tender and falls off the bone.
How long does it take to cook frozen lamb shanks?
Cooking time for frozen lamb shanks can vary depending on their size, but estimate at least 30 minutes longer than if thawed. For braising or slow-cooking, plan on cooking frozen lamb shanks for 3-4 hours.
Can I season frozen lamb shanks before cooking?
Yes. Allow the lamb shanks to come to room temperature before seasoning them with salt, pepper, garlic, or other spices. This will help the seasonings stick to the meat and create a more flavorful dish.