Greek Venison or Lamb Shanks

4.87 from 23 votes
Jump to Recipe

As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases.

There’s something sexy about a well cooked shank. Silky, tender, and deeply flavored in a way only a well-used muscle can be. Most cooks work primarily with lamb shanks, and indeed, this is a Greek lamb shank recipe that I have modified for venison.

Before you stop reading, know that the difference between a lamb shank and a deer shank is basically about two hours; they are otherwise the same in the kitchen. Deer, being athletes, run around a lot, and are often several years old, whereas lambs are, well, not athletes and are young. Thus the time difference.

The finished Greek lamb shank on a platter with root vegetables
Photo by Holly A. Heyser

I am using shanks from a whitetail deer I hunted in Oklahoma, and any deer shank will work as-is. If you are using very large shanks, like those from elk or moose or bear — or beef, for that matter, you will want to cross-cut them like I do for my ossobuco recipe.

My inspiration for this recipe is from a wonderful, if little known, cookbook by the great chef Michael Psilakis, called How to Roast a Lamb. It’s a classic Greek lamb shank recipe, with sturdy vegetables, lots of herbs and a little tomato and red wine.

The general procedure is to brown the meat in olive oil, then cook some vegetables in the pot, braise everything, then reduce the cooking liquid to serve as a sauce. This last step can take some time, like 30 minutes or so, which means if you are serving your shanks with mashed potatoes or rice, you can make them while the sauce is reducing.

A key to the flavor of the dish is to use a variety of fresh herbs. It brightens up an otherwise wintry, moody dish. I used a combination of parsley, dill and the leaves from the center of a bunch of celery. Other options would be fresh oregano or thyme, lovage, savory or fennel fronds.

There is one modification you’ll need to do if you are using venison instead of lamb: After you cook your vegetables in the olive oil, you’ll need to remove them until the meat is close to being tender — otherwise they will cook into mush. You don’t need to do this with lamb shanks.

Once made, this will keep for a week in the fridge, and it freezes well. My advice would be to debone it after the first night, then use it as a topping for mashed potatoes or rice later in the week.

If you are looking for other great recipes to make with a shank, try my Austrian braised shanks, shanks with lots and lots of garlic, Portuguese braised shanks or a Senegalese mafe recipe using elk shanks.

The finished Greek lamb shank on a platter with root vegetables
4.87 from 23 votes

Greek Lamb or Venison Shank

This is a great recipe to make with smallish shanks of any animal, from lamb and pork to venison.
Course: Main Course
Cuisine: Greek
Servings: 4 servings
Author: Hank Shaw
Prep Time: 20 minutes
Cook Time: 3 hours
Total Time: 3 hours 20 minutes


  • 4 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 large deer shanks, or 4 lamb shanks
  • Salt
  • 2 carrots, peeled and cut into large chunks
  • 1 white or yellow onion, sliced thickly
  • 3 celery stalks, cut unto large chunks
  • 5 cloves garlic, peeled but whole
  • 4 bay leaves
  • 1 teaspoon dried thyme
  • 2 teaspoons dried oregano
  • 3 tablespoons tomato paste
  • 1/2 cup red wine
  • 2 tablespoons cold butter
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh dill
  • Black pepper to taste


  • In a large Dutch oven or other heavy, lidded pot, heat the olive oil over medium-high heat. Salt the shanks, then brown them well on all sides except the one with the bone; this helps the shanks hold together better. Preheat the oven to 325°F.
  • When the shanks are nicely browned, remove them to a bowl. Add the carrots, onion and celery and sauté until slightly browned, about 6 to 8 minutes. Add the garlic cloves and cook another minute, stirring often. If you are cooking lamb shanks, leave the vegetables in. If you are cooking deer or other wild game shanks, remove the vegetables.
  • Add the tomato paste, wine, thyme and oregano to the pot. Mix well, and once it thickens, add a cup of water and mix well. Add the venison shanks back in now, along with any juice that has accumulated in the bowl. Cover with more water by just a little, bring to a simmer and add salt to taste. Cover the pot and let this cook in the oven for 90 minutes.
  • At this point, lamb shanks will be done. Deer shanks will still need some time, but you can add back the vegetables now. Keep cooking until the meat wants to fall off the bone, anywhere from another 30 minutes to another 2 hours. It's wild game, so you never know...
  • When the meat is tender, remove it gently to an ovenproof pan, along with all the vegetables. Turn off the oven and set this pan in the oven to keep warm. Set the pot on a strong burner and boil down the braising liquid. This will take roughly 20 to 30 minutes, so now is a good moment to make rice or mashed potatoes.
  • When the sauce has reduced and thickened a bit, turn off the heat. When it stops, bubbling, add the cold butter a tablespoon at a time, swirling until it disappears. Use this as your sauce for the shanks and vegetables. Top it all with fresh herbs and black pepper.


Calories: 358kcal | Carbohydrates: 12g | Protein: 21g | Fat: 23g | Saturated Fat: 7g | Cholesterol: 79mg | Sodium: 268mg | Potassium: 633mg | Fiber: 3g | Sugar: 5g | Vitamin A: 5789IU | Vitamin C: 11mg | Calcium: 71mg | Iron: 3mg

Nutrition information is automatically calculated, so should only be used as an approximation.

Tried this recipe? Tag me today!Mention @huntgathercook or tag #hankshaw!


You May Also Like

Fig Syrup

Tired of maple syrup? Make fig syrup. You can use fresh or fried figs, wild or store-bought.

Pickled Grape Leaves

Pickled grape leaves sound odd, but they are the preserved grape leaves you use for various Mediterranean dishes, like dolmades,…

Greek Braised Quail

Braised quail Greek style, with olives, lemon, celery and garlic. This is a simple recipe that also works with rabbit, partridge, pheasant and grouse.

Warm Crab Salad with Peppers

A Greek dish of warm crab salad with peppers, mostly sweet bell peppers, served with red onions and lots of herbs.

About Hank Shaw

Hey there. Welcome to Hunter Angler Gardener Cook, the internet’s largest source of recipes and know-how for wild foods. I am a chef, author, and yes, hunter, angler, gardener, forager and cook. Follow me on Instagram and on Facebook.

4.87 from 23 votes (13 ratings without comment)

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Recipe Rating


  1. Great recipe. My thoughts. Cut small holes in the meat to embed small chunks of garlic and herbs. Ideally fresh herbs. Keep a small extra potion of minced garlic aside – about half a teaspoon, and add it to the bubbling sauce 5 minutes before serving. All this packs an extra flavour punch. Another way my mother cooked them was to embed the garlic and herbs and seasoned on the surface, then wrap them in foil in the oven until the meat is soft and almost fully cooked, then cook them under the grill to brown baste and serve garnished with the sauce.

  2. This was fantastic!! I love the simplicity of this recipe plus the fact that I had all ingredients on hand. Cannot wait to try with venison! I did let them go the full 90 min, which was not easy as the smell was heavenly 🙂 and I think I’ll let the (lamb) shanks braise a tad longer next time just because…but it’s 9p already and we couldn’t wait any longer 🙂

  3. This is a new addition to my shank rotation, and I love this one as well. Have done mule deer and lamb shanks both with this one.

  4. Great recipe. Be careful with the salt. I salted to raste, but when I reduced the broth to a sauce it was a bit salt. Love it. Will make again.

  5. This was utterly delicious. I’m always leery of most recipes I find on the internet as I find most don’t offer enough seasoning/spice for adequate flavor but this was perfect. I didn’t even do the butter sauce at the end and it was still excellent. You can’t go wrong with this.

  6. Hi Hank! I cooked this recipe for my husband and I and he decided you should rename the recipe and call it Shaw’s Shank Redemption. It was awesome by the way. I am really enjoying all the information I have gleaned from your website. I read the article about purslane today as we have it in our veggie garden and use it in salads but I look forward to trying your salad recipe. Such awesome work you do! Thank you. Corinne

  7. Una grande ricetta,come al solito. bravissimo. grazie mille,congratulazioni e auguri di buon anno. Happy new year,thanks for all your great work.Stay SAFE.Un caro saluto from your admirer from Vancouver Island,west coast Canada. Cheers.

    1. HAppy new year to you and your family. You are a genius that can beat all the classic recipes italian,greek,messican,you name it. Bravissimo.Thanks.

  8. Oh man, I live Greek lamb shanks. I’m going to definitely have to try this. . . probably next year as when I butchered my deer I didn’t keep a shank cut in this fashion.

  9. Hank,
    Good morning. I am definitely going to try this one & I’m sure it will be fantastic. I’m a huge fan of your recipes & yarns. Have not had one yet that is not spot on. Thanks for sharing. The photos are of particular interest & well done. Speaking of which, this recipe’s photo contains an image of a serving fork. I have the exact same fork/knife set purchased a few years ago in a small mining town’s antique shop outside of Canon City, CO. The knife holds a makers stamp of Meadow City Cutlery, “Superior”. Thought I’d pass the providence along in the event you do not have the set. Keep the articles flowing. Wishing you and yours a grand & healthy 2021 as we kick 2020 into to the rearview mirror.
    Best regards,
    Rick Warwick

  10. Question from a relatively new hunter…are these from the front or back legs, and how do you typically process them? Usually I end up just cutting most of this meat away from the lower leg bone for grinding or for long simmering type cooks, but not as a full bone in shank. Any details or tips on the “parting out” process you can share?

    1. Nic: Doesn’t matter which shank. You can disjoint shanks with a pocket knife, if you run the knife between the joints. But I and many other people tend to use a knife to cut the meat to the joint, then a saw to remove the shanks. I also will saw the thin end (that used to attach to the foot) to fit my pots.

  11. Looks great & very similar to the one I use. Next time you make it try dropping in an anchovy. You won’t taste it but it’ll enhance the other flavors.

  12. For Christmas I got a 5-1/2 quart Le Creuset enameled cast iron casserole pot with the lid for doing venison shanks and along comes your recipe, how’d you know Hank! I’ll probably have to cross cut to fit them but I’m looking forward to doing this soon as I finally kept some whole deer shanks to do something with other than trim and grind for burger or sausage.

  13. I own this little know cookbook and have enjoyed it for many years! I appreciate the conversion to venison. Thank you!