Red Wine Braised Lamb Shank

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pall.jpgby Melissa Close, Executive Chef of Palladio Restaurant

Executive Chef Melissa Close has directed Palladio's kitchen since the fall of 2000, continually working to bring authentic Italian Cuisine to Central Virginia. Raised in Alabama, Melissa has been in the restaurant business since she was 16 years old and is a distinguished graduate from the New England Culinary Institute, Alumna of the Year in 2005. She has focused on Italian cuisine since working for award-winning chef Frank Stitt at Bottega Restaurant & Cafe located in Birmingham, Alabama in the early 90's. Her quest to refine her fluency in Italian cuisine led her to San Francisco's Rose Pistola Restaurant.

mel-2.jpgAfter taking a hiatus to work for one of her early culinary mentors and fellow Charlottesville chef, Craig Hartman, at The Cliff House at Pikes Peak in Manitou Springs, Colorado, she was drawn back to Italian cuisine when asked to take the Executive Chef's position at Palladio Restaurant. She has brought both national and international recognition for Palladio Restaurant through her constant striving to create menus with the freshest ingredients found locally and internationally. During the restaurant's annual closing in January, Melissa and her staff travel across the Atlantic to stage in some of Italy's finest establishments to expand their knowledge of Italian cuisine. Melissa and her staff's commitment for excellence has won her induction in the Chaine des Rotisseurs, and three invitations to create dinners at the world-renowned James Beard House in New York City, a great honor bestowed upon select chefs in the country.
Red Wine Braised Lamb Shank, Serves 4


  • Lamb Shank, center cut, 14-16 oz per pc 4 ea
  • Olive oil 1/2 cup
  • Garlic cloves, minced 4 ea
  • Onion, Spanish, medium, minced 1 ea
  • Leek, white part only, minced 1 ea
  • Carrot, medium, small dice 2 ea
  • Celery ribs, trimmed, small dice 2 ea
  • Sage leaves, fresh, chopped 4 ea
  • Rosemary sprigs, chopped 2 ea
  • Bay leaf, fresh 1 ea
  • Cabernet Franc wine 3 cups
  • Stock, veal or chicken 5 cups
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

Preheat oven at 325-350 F. Heat olive oil in a heavy pot large enough to hold the shanks. Season shanks with salt and pepper. Brown each side of the shanks in the hot oil, remove and set aside. In the same pot sweat garlic, onion, leek, carrot and celery until soft, put shanks back in, add the herbs, then the wine, and reduce by 1/2. Add the stock. Cover and place in oven for about 2 hours or until fork tender. During the cooking if necessary add more liquid, making sure shanks don't dry out. Remove shanks from pot, strain and reduce sauce and adjust seasoning.

Soft Polenta, Serves 4


  • 3 cups water
  • 6 oz polenta
  • 1 TBL chopped thyme
  • 2 TBL grated parmesan cheese
  • salt to taste

Bring water to a boil. Whisk in the polenta and salt. Reduce heat to simmer. Simmer polenta for 30 minutes, adding additional water, if needed, and stirring occasionally. Before serving stir in herbs and cheese.

Wilted Spinach, Serves 4


  • 1.5 LBs baby spinach
  • 2 TBL olive oil
  • 2 TBL white wine
  • salt & pepper to taste


Heat large saute pan on high heat. Add olive oil. Add spinach and stir. Cook for 1 minute. Add salt, pepper and wine. Cook for 1 minute. Serve immediately.

For more information on Palladio or to a make reservation, please call (540) 832-7848 or visit Palladio.

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