With Easter just around the corner I thought I’d stick with tradition and give a recipe for lamb. Most people will probably choose to cook a beautiful leg but I much prefer the more pronounced flavour of the humble shank. While the leg can be cooked pretty quickly, the shank requires a long and slow cook to break down the muscle fibres and become tender. This is also a great dish to serve at a dinner party as you can put it in the oven and forget about it for a few hours while you get on with other things. Try to use a decent red wine here, something that you wouldn’t mind drinking. Ali isn’t a big fan of lamb so I cooked a beef rib for her instead. It’s the perfect substitute as it will work with the flavours and has the same cooking time.
2 tbsp Extra-Virgin Olive Oil
4 Lamb Shanks
2 Onions (chopped)
2 Carrots (chopped)
2 sticks of Celery (chopped)
2 Bay Leaves
2 sprigs of Thyme
1 bulb of Garlic (cut in half horizontally)
500ml good Red Wine
500ml good Lamb/Beef Stock
1 Tin of Tomatoes
1 Tin of Chickpeas
Sea Salt and Freshly Ground Pepper
1. Season the shanks with salt and pepper. Heat the oil in a large cassarole over a medium heat. Brown the shanks one at a time and set aside.
2. With all the meat removed add the onion, carrot, celery, bay leaves and thyme. Season well and cook for 6 or 7 minutes before adding the wine. Scrape up any stuck on bits from the bottom of the pan before layering the shanks into the pan. Pour in the stock and tomatoes, bring to the boil, cover with a tight fitting lid (or foil) and put into a 150 degree oven for at least 3 hours.
3. The lamb should be tender and almost falling off the bone after 3 hours. Remove it from the pan and allow to rest while you make the gravy. Strain the stock into a fresh saucepan, pushing as much of the vegetables through as possible. Add the chickpeas to the strained stock and bring to a simmer. Cook for about ten minutes before mashing the chickpeas into the sauce. Strain again for a smooth finish and add a little lamb or beef stock if it’s too thick.
4. Serve a shank per person on a bed of chive mashed potatoes and some roasted vegetables.