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Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Arni Kapama (Lamb Shank Stew)

You'll probably think me crazy for making this rustic dish in the middle of summer, a hearty lamb stew spiced with cinnamon, allspice and nutmeg but I have no doubt you would want to try it yourselves.

Lamb is a very popular meat in Greece. I'm sure many of you remember the movie "My Big Fat Greek Wedding" and the line "That's Okay, I make Lamb!" So, last week while my mom was visiting us to see her grandson, she mentioned a dish to me that she had in her childhood. A hearty rich stew of lamb shanks, potatoes and vegetables in a velvety spiced tomato sauce. It made my mouth water as she described the dish and her feelings about it. She had dreamed about it recently and wanted to have Arni Kapama again. Naturally I wanted to make this dish myself. My plan is to surprise her with it when she comes back to visit again.

4 lamb shanks, trim some fat
1 large onion or 2 small ones
3 cups water
2 cups chicken broth or stock
1 lb potatoes (I like red, golden, purple with skins on)
Vegetables - String beans, carrots, zucchini, etc..
1 small 6 oz can tomato paste
1 tbsp salt
2 tsp pepper
2 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp nutmeg
1 tsp allspice
2 tbsp butter (unsalted)
a drizzle olive oil


First you want to salt and pepper your lamb shanks on both sides before braising them.

Put a large pot on high heat, drizzle with olive oil and add the butter. I let the butter brown slightly before adding the lamb.

Brown the lamb on all sides. Next, chop up
your onion into large pieces.

Add the onion in the pot and cook until they are soft and glistening. You are ready to add your water and chicken stock to the pot.

Once you cover the lamb with the liquid, bring to a rolling boil and then turn the heat down to low. Let this simmer for 90 minutes. Do this early in the day or even the day before. Transfer to a cool pot and refrigerate so the fat will come to the top and harden. It will make it easier to remove the fat. Nothing worse than eating a really greasy dish.

Later: Skim the fat off the top. You are ready to make magic!

Chop up the vegetables into bite-sized pieces. Today I used squash, potatoes and carrots. Big chunks give it a more rustic look.

Heat the lamb, add the tomato paste, salt, pepper and spices to the pot and let come up to a boil, turn down to medium low and add the potatoes and vegetables to the pot.

Cook for around 30 minutes until the vegetables are tender and the sauce has thickened. Using a pair of tongs put a shank on a plate and ladle the vegetables and sauce over it. Crusty bread is perfect accompaniment to sop up the sauce. I would serve this with a green salad and a robust red wine.

Kali Orexi!


  1. Flo --

    This recipe makes me want to become a vegetarian so that I can give up vegetarianism to have this dish.

    If you know what I mean.

  2. Yes I do!

    Seriously, even Gabrielle was licking her fingers with this one. It was very tasty if I say so myself.

  3. Believe it or not, the Greek-owned Astro coffee shop in Silverlake usually has Greek lamb shank on Fridays (except this past Friday they didn't but had lamb stew)...but I'm sure it doesn't hold a candle (or lamb shank) to yours!