Chef’s Fall Recipe: Chris Franz’s Red Wine-Braised Lamb Shank

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Chef Chris Franz previous work experiences include private clubs in 1992, where he served as Executive Chef and Executive Sous Chef for Oak Pointe Country Club in Brighton and the Renaissance Club in Detroit, and as Executive Chef at Forest Lake Country Club in Bloomfield Hills. Chef Franz earned his degree in Culinary Arts from Oakland Community College in 1991. Before joining The Rattlesnake Club in 2001, Chef Chris Franz previously worked as the Executive Chef at Jimmy’s in Grosse Pointe, Michigan since 1998. For 10 years, he has worked alongside renowned Chef Jimmy Schmidt in creating award-winning cuisine not only in Detroit, but throughout the country and around the world. Chef Franz currently resides in St. Clair Shores, Michigan with his wife and three children.

Rattlesnake Chef Chris Franz 2013

We asked Chef Franz about his cooking philosophy, and he responded by saying, “My cooking philosophy is to find what’s local, what’s fresh. Simple ingredients – then treat them well, never overdo it and let the flavors of each season shine through. For me, simple is always better. I like to make people smile with my food.”

Chef Chris Franz shares his recipe for Red Wine-Braised Lamb Shank, and he explains why it’s a perfect recipe for fall because: “Fall in Michigan is all about football, cider mills, the crunch of drying leaves, cooler weather and longer nights. After a day spent picking apples with the family, there’s nothing like a warm, hearty braised dish. Lamb shanks are rich, flavorful and, even my kids love them – that make this dish a winner at my house. Mashing parsnips with rutabagas, or even potatoes for that matter, adds a little something different to dinnertime. The sweet and spicy kick from this easy side make great use of our area’s bountiful root vegetables, too. This dish will warm your soul, with little effort and amazing flavor.”

Rattlesnake Club - Braised Lamb ShankRed Wine-Braised Lamb shank | Parsnip and Rutabaga Mash
Makes 2 portions

1/2 teaspoon Kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 tablespoon dried oregano
1/2 tablespoon ground chipotle powder
1 tablespoon fennel seeds
1 tablespoon coriander
1/4 teaspoon ground thyme
1/2 teaspoon marjoram
3/4 teaspoon celery seed
2 approx 1.5 pound lamb shanks
2 tablespoon olive oil
2 shallots (chopped)
6 cloves garlic (chopped)
1 large carrot diced
1 large celery stalk diced
1/2 cup good quality red wine – like a Zinfandel
2 cups chicken stock
2 cups beef stock
1 bay leaf
2 teaspoons chopped parsley, optional


Preheat oven 350 degrees. Begin with the spice rub by simply mixing the dry spices (first nine ingredients) in a bowl to taste–this is an area where I don’t pay a whole lot of attention to measurements. Make oregano, fennel, thyme, and marjoram the stars of the show.

Rub this all over the lamb shanks well. Place lamb on sheet tray on wire rack and put in oven for 15 minutes.

Meanwhile, in a dutch oven, sauté vegetables with garlic and shallots in a little olive oil.
Deglaze pan with a little red wine and add both stocks and bay leaf. Place lamb in pot and cover with lid. Place back in oven and let cook for 2½ hours until tender.

Place lamb back on sheet tray and cover loosely with foil.

Put dutch oven on stovetop and bring juices to a boil. Simmer for 10-15 minutes or until reduced by half. Strain through a fine sieve and keep warm.

To serve, place Parsnip & Rutabaga Mash (recipe follows) in center of plate. Top with lamb shank and pour a little sauce over top. Garnish with chopped parsley if desired.

Parsnip & Rutabaga Mash


3 pounds rutabaga, peeled and cut into 2-inch pieces
2 to 2 1/2 pounds parsnips, peeled and cut into 2-inch pieces, about 5 or 6 medium
2 tablespoons butter
2/3 cup milk
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg, or to taste
Kosher salt & freshly ground black pepper, to taste


Cook rutabaga and parsnips in salted water in separate saucepans. When both are tender, remove from heat. Rutabaga will take about 35 minutes, and parsnips will take about 20 to 25 minutes.
Drain; puree or mash rutabaga well, then mash the parsnips. Combine mashed rutabaga and parsnips; add butter, milk, salt, pepper, and nutmeg. Beat well. Taste and add more salt if necessary.

The Rattlesnake Club is located at 300 River Place Dr Detroit, MI 48207

Hours of Operation

Tuesday – Thursday — 11:30AM – 10PM
Friday — 11:30AM – 11PM
Saturday — 5:30PM – 11PM
Sunday – Monday — Closed

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Blanca Valbuena
I am one of the co-founders of FriendsEAT. Obviously, I love to eat. Other passions include A Song of Ice and Fire, Shakespeare, Dostoyevski, and Aldous Huxley.
Blanca Valbuena
Blanca Valbuena

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