As I awoke to face this last (hopefully) wintry Sunday of the year, I was inspired to haul out my favorite recipe for a cold Sunday: lamb shanks.  Now this is no ordinary lamb shanks recipe, as the little lamb legs rest in a pot with 2 full cups of peeled garlic cloves.  The recipe is out of my favorite slim cookbook, The Stinking Cookbook (1), out of that marvelous San Francisco restaurant “The Stinking Rose”, which features all things allium sativa. 

We picked up the cookbook when we ate there sometime in the 90s.  Our hotel room the next morning stunk so much of allium emissions, we were sure they were going to have to fumigate and stick us with the bill.  Didn’t happen, but we’ve left many rooms in a similar fashion since.  Probably going to happen after tonight’s shanks.

The recipe will gladden my wife’s heart, not just because of the wondrous meal she will face, but because of the many emptyings of our refrigeration systems it would represent.  Of course, out come the shanks: 2 monstrous one and a half pound numbers, courtesy of farmer Mark and wife Michelle, an ace rheumatology researcher and former colleague of mine.  Their joint enterprise, “EMMA acres” keeps us supplied with some pretty good food.

I also thawed out the heart, which came from the last lamb of theirs I bought.  The recipe calls for 4 shanks, but these 2 I had take up the pot.  Then there’s that fennel I had frozen away, plus of course the 2 cups of peeled garlic gloves I had in the jar from Bombay Grocers. Some of those garlic mashed potatoes, frozen away since the Spei’s Christmas, will make a side, as will the green beans/peppers dish leftovers from last week.  Our freezer still requires a paver block to hold down the lid, but after today there’s a little less.

The recipe is not fussy, especially if you got someone else to peel the garlic, but it has to cook for 3 hours in a 3500 oven.   So, it can make for a late dinner if you don’t get on the stick early in the afternoon.  Kathy is always after me to get dinner on the table before 7, which doesn’t always happen.  She doesn’t share my admiration for the Spanish, who eat their dinners around 10.  With nothing on the Monday AM plate for either of us this week, and our wonderful Sunday evening radio shows to accompany us, we’ll be fine when this comes out of the oven at 8.  We might even take that second bottle of shiraz.  Life is good.

Here’s the recipe.  I adapted it for lamb necks but throw in 2-4 lamb shanks instead and you’ll be there.  Bon Appetit!


  1. Dal Bozzo J. The Stinking Cookbook. Berkeley CA: Celestial Arts, 1994.

Published by rike52

I retired from the Rheumatology division of Michigan Medicine end of June '19 after 36 years there. Upon hitting Ann Arbor for the second time (I went to school here) it took me almost 8 months to meet Kathy, 17 months to buy her a house (on Harbal, where we still live), and 37 months to marry her. Kids never came, but we've been blessed with a crowd of colleagues, friends, neighbors and family that continues to grow. Lots of them are going to show up in this log eventually. Stay tuned.

2 thoughts on “shanks!

  1. But the recipe’s out of a cookbook from a landmark San Francisco restaurant. And no traditional Midwestern cook would use all that garlic. How unseemly. And, oh, how it makes you stink!


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