Lamb is a favorite of mine and the lamb shank is a special springtime treat! I season each shank with plenty of salt, black pepper and rosemary about 30 minutes before searing them in hot olive oil.
After they are well browned on all sides, I add carrots, celery, onions and garlic to the pot. Sweat them with the lid on and allow the sugars to caramelize. Allowing the onions to brown will help to add a rich dark brown color to the final sauce. To de-glaze the pan you can use red or white wine. Finally, add lamb (or chicken) stock to cover 3/4ths of the shanks.
At the stage pictured above, the shanks have been seared and then, covered and let to braise for 90 minutes. Add water to replace the liquid that has evaporated. Cover and return to the fire for another 90 minutes til tender. I think thick joints of braised meat, as well as soups, are actually a little tastier the day after cooking. Chill the shanks in the cooking liquid overnight. Next day, remove the fat that has settled at the top. Place the shanks back into a pan and pour the strained cooking liquid over them. Place in a hot oven 30 – 45 minutes before your are ready to eat. To finish this sauce you can just thicken the liquid with a roux or cornstarch. Serve with braised celery, carrots and leeks. Lamb shanks go well with noodles, rice or orzo.