Posted by: lornasass | January 12, 2010


Photo courtesy of Gourmet Magazine

I’ve been checking out some U-Tube clips on pressure cooking and was DEEElighted to find this one of Gourmet test-kitchen cook Gina Marie Miraglia Eriquez preparing Lamb Shanks with White Beans in the pressure cooker.

When Gourmet’s editor Ruth Reichl tastes the finished dish, she exclaims how delicious it is.  Ruth also admits to being terrified of using a pressure cooker.  Dear Ruth:  Please come over for a pressure-cooked dinner and all of your fears will be vanquished.

All of the tasters waxed eloquent about the lamb stew. It’s so sad that Gourmet is no longer being published, but with this clip another part of its great legacy lives on!

Here is the actual recipe, which I found on  The U-Tube clip is below.

Lamb Shanks with White Beans

Far from being a culinary museum piece, the pressure cooker deserves a place in the 21st-century kitchen. One reason: You can make this hearty Italian meal of incredibly tender lamb with vegetables and saucy beans in about an hour.

A few tips from Lorna before you begin:

**You can skip browning the lamb, if you want to save time.  Browning enhances taste, but I’m not convinced that the time it takes is a worthwhile trade-off.  I often just brush meat lightly with soy sauce and skip the browning.

**Add the tomatoes last and don’t stir after adding them. This will prevent scorching and encourage the beans to cook more evenly.

**Add boiling water; the pressure will come up faster.

**Drain the sauce and pass the liquid through a fat separator, or skim off surface fat before serving.

Yield: Makes 4 servings

Active time: 20 min

Total time: 1 hr

  • 2 lamb shanks (2 pounds total)
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 2 medium carrots, chopped
  • 2 celery ribs, chopped
  • 3 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
  • 1 (14-ounces) can diced tomatoes in juice
  • 2 rosemary sprigs
  • 1 cup dried navy beans, picked over
  • 3 1/2 cups water
  • Garnish: chopped flat-leaf parsley; extra-virgin olive oil for drizzling
  • Equipment: a 6-to 8-quart pressure cooker

Pat lamb shanks dry and season with 1/2 teaspoon salt and 1/4 teaspoon pepper. Heat oil in pressure cooker over medium-high heat until it shimmers, then brown shanks well, 1 at a time, transferring to a plate.

Add onion, carrots, celery, and garlic to pressure cooker and sauté until golden brown, about 6 minutes. Add tomatoes with juice and rosemary and cook, stirring, 1 minute. Stir in beans, water, 1/2 teaspoon salt, and 1/4 teaspoon pepper.

Return lamb shanks to pressure cooker and bring to a boil. Seal lid and cook at high pressure according to manufacturer’s instructions, 30 minutes. Put pressure cooker in sink (do not remove lid) and run cold water over lid until pressure goes down completely. Remove lid and discard rosemary, then transfer shanks to a cutting board and coarsely shred meat.

Spoon bean and vegetable mixture into large shallow bowls, then top with lamb and sauce.



  1. I found this recipe on Epicurious a few weeks ago and made it the other night. I soaked the beans for about 8 hours and increased the cooking time by about 10 minutes as recommended by reviewers.

    I always leave dishes like this in the fridge overnight. The next day, I remove the hardened fat layer prior to warming up. This time I couldn’t wait and we ate it the same night. FABULOUS, but the leftovers were even better the next day.

    I also used 3.5 cups of chicken stock (Swanson’s reduced sodium) instead if water. The only other thing that I would change the next time I make it, is that I wouldn’t put in the whole stalks of rosemary – I would mince them first, as it was a major pain and time consuming to remove the numerous bitter pieces/leaves (?) that were mixed in with the beans and shanks.

    • Thank you so much for these very helpful suggestions! Much appreciated. I think instead I’d try not pre-soaking the beans, keep the timing the same, but use the natural pressure release.

  2. P.S. If the shanks are too large for your pressure cooker, I used a 5 L cooker, have the butcher cut them in half or in thirds. It won’t effect the cooking process or the final product.

    • Thanks for the suggestion Lorna. I have never made any bean dishes in the pressure cooker, so I wanted to do it ‘the right way’, the first time, by pre-soaking the beans. I usually follow recipes to the T, initially, and then make my own changes after that. Next time I will use your method of not soaking for 8 hours, and using natural pressure release.

      I LOVE lamb shanks, but I had never thought to make them in the pressure cooker. They were just as good as the 2-3 hour stove top version that I have been making for many years – and soooo much faster.

  3. Nina, I just found this on the web myself, I think a lot of websites have picked my recipe up. I am a big fan of pressure cookers, I grew up with them, my Mom and Grandma always used them, they make long-winded dishes just so easy! i really use mine a lot. I am also a fan of yours, your books are great. Even after Gourmet’s closing, I still freelance at various magazines, websites and books, so I continue to do my work. I also have tried to introduce the pressure cooker to these places, so they know what a great instrument it is. Thanks for your great information over the years. Gina

  4. I find that using the amt of water as directions coming with the manufacture book states makes meat taste boiled. I’ve been using pressure cookers over 50 years and I put minimal amt of water for much better taste. When cooking sauerkraut and ribs, for example, I add no water. Pressure cooking makes a lot of water. Same is true with slow cookers. too much liquid ruins flavor. lso, I just bought Fagor cooker, I’ve always used Presto and am hving a hard time getting the pressure right I guess, because its taking a lot more time in the Fagor as in the Presto. I have an electric stove. Any ideas??

    • I suspect that the Fagor has a lower PSI than the Presto and that you’ll just have to add a few minutes. As to liquid, experiment w/o food and just use water to see the least amount you need to bring up the pressure. Hope that helps. Happy cooking! Lorna

  5. I made this in an 8-qt Fagor Duo, High setting (15psi). Used dry beans as directed. After 30 minutes at pressure (time started when indicator signaled that pressure was reached) the beans were only partly cooked. Regarding Berry’s question, Fagor’s minimal amount of water for cook times over 10 minutes is two cups.

    • Wow, this is surprising, but beans are very unpredictable and vary depending upon age, storage, and other factors. Except for chickpeas and soybeans, most beans cook in under 30 minutes. But it’s hard to get the timing precise, so it’s best to just finish them off by simmering them.

      • Thanks for the quick reply! I’m a newbie at this type of cooking, so I appreciate any tips you can give. Why wouldn’t you put them back under pressure for a few more minutes, repeating if necessary?

      • You could bring them back up to pressure if they are seriously under-cooked, but the timing between perfectly done and mush is impossible to predict! Depends on how much of a gambler you are!

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