Chef’s Winter Recipes: Ryan Johnston’s Red Wine Braised Lamb Shanks

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Chef Ryan Johnston was born in South Florida with a butcher for a father, so he has been exposed to the food industry even as a young boy. This led him to develop his great passion for cooking with the use of the freshest ingredients and finest selections of meat. He was diagnosed with diabetes. This pushed him to commit using high-quality organic produce from local farmers, that soon became the trademark of his kitchens.


Chef Ryan Johnston is the Executive Chef of Whisknladle

He graduated at the prestigious Culinary Institute of America, and he has earned more than 10 years of experience and training at some of the best restaurants in the country. In 2006, Arturo Kassel asked Johnston to oversee the menu development and back-of-the-house operations for Fresh[er] Restaurant in La Jolla, California. Johnston and Kassel are currently partners in Whisknladle and Prepkitchen located in La Jolla, Del Mar, and San Diego, California.

Chef Ryan was kind enough to give us one of his favorite recipes. When asked why it’s perfect for winter, he responds by saying, “Red Wine Braised Lamb Shanks is my idea of a perfect winter dish.  In essence it’s comfort food with an inventive spin.  Even though we don’t experience freezing temperatures like other parts of the country here in San Diego, this dish is excellent for sharing over a long meal with friends and family during the cooler months.  Plus, you really can’t beat the aroma that fills the kitchen while the succulent lamb is cooking.  It’s heartier than some lighter dishes often associated with spring and summer, but still healthy with the abundance of ginger, mint and kale.”


Red Wine Braised Lamb Shanks with Flageolet Beans, Ginger-Mint Salsa Verde, Baby Kale, Manchego and Pine Nuts.

Red Wine Braised Lamb Shanks

-For the Lamb Shanks-
4 Lamb Fore shanks
3 T Blended Oil (Olive and canola)
½ cup onions (fine diced)
¼ cups celery (fine diced)
¼ cup carrots (fine diced)
2 star anise
1.5 cups veal stock
1.5 cups lamb stock
1.5 cups red wine


Sprinkle lamb shanks generously with salt and allow them to season over night
Pre heat oven to 300
In Dutch oven add 3 T of blend oil and sear the shanks at high heat until browned well
Remove from pan and add Mire poix (onions, celery and carrots). Sweat until translucent. Add red wine and reduce by half
Add shanks back to the pot along with veal and lamb stock and star anise
Cover Dutch oven and braise until tender 3-4 hours

-For the Beans-
1.5 cups flageolet beans
1/2 onion rough chopped
1 carrot rough chopped
1 rib of celery rough chopped
2 T Butter
2 cloves of garlic Confit (Cook whole cloves of garlic in olive oil on low heat until garlic is tender. Reserve garlic oil for other uses)


Place beans in a pot with onion celery and garlic. Cover with water by 2 inches. Bring up to a boil and then bring down to a simmer. Cook until beans are tender and creamy. Drain and reserve beans removing mire poix.
When lamb shanks are ready heat butter until brown and nutty. Add beans and garlic confit sautéing until hot and beans are just broken. Season with salt and pepper.

-For the Salsa Verde-
1 bunch of mint, Chopped fine
½ c Olive Oil
1 T Red Wine Vinegar
1.5 tsp Capers, Chopped fine
1.5 tsp Fresno Chile, Seeded and chopped fine
1.5 tsp ginger, peeled and chopped fine
1 tsp Dijon


After chopping mint immediately cover with the olive oil to prevent it from turning brown. Add capers, Fresno chile, ginger and Dijon. Mix together. Adjust acid and salt to taste

To Plate

Place beans in the bottom of a large platter and place lamb shanks over the beans. Spoon some of the reduced braising liquid over the shanks. Mix 2 cups of baby kale with 2 T of the salsa Verde and place on the platter and over the shanks. Add more of the salsa Verde to taste. Garnish with shavings of Manchego Cheese and a sprinkle of toasted Pine Nuts

Whisknladle is located at 1044 Wall Street La Jolla, CA 92037.

Hours of Operation

Monday – Friday 11:30am – 03:00pm
Saturday and Sunday 10:00am – 03:00pm
Sunday – Thursday 05:00pm – 09:00pm
Friday and Saturday 05:00pm – 10:00pm

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Chef Ken

Chef Ken

A chef by profession, a foodie at heart. He's been passionate about food and cooking since he was young. He is the online Community Manager of FriendsEAT.
Chef Ken