Lamb shanks in red wine, cooked slowly in the oven until the meat falls off the bone, served with crusty sourdough bread or mashed potatoes to mop up the juices….
According to this site http://www.agmrc.org/commodities__products/livestock/lamb/international-lamb-profile/ in 2011, the worldwide average yearly lamb consumption was 4 pounds, in the USA the average yearly lamb consumption was only .88 pounds, while the Aussies and Kiwis racked up and impressive 26 and 25 pounds respectively. For those of you that haven’t tried Lamb, this recipe would be a great introduction to it. There is a little bit of prep up front, and then you can relax while the oven does all the work for you. The end result is a meltingly moist, tender and flavorful piece of meat.
I’ve pinched this recipe http://chelseawinter.co.nz/lamb-shank-recipe/ from Chelsea Winter, a well-known and respected NZ Master Chef winner, food blogger and cook book author. This recipe is from her cookbook “At My Table” and appealed to me based on the flavour combinations. I have not strayed even slightly from the original recipe (a first for me), and I’m happy to say I couldn’t improve on it if I tried.
4 large lamb shanks
3 tbsp olive oil
1 onion, finely chopped
1 shallot, chopped
4 cloves garlic, crushed or chopped
3 tbsp tomato paste
½ bottle red wine
3 tbsp finely chopped thyme leaves
1 cup lamb stock (or use 1/2 beef 1/2 chicken)
1 x 400g can chopped tomatoes
1 carrot, halved
1 stick celery, whole
1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
2 sprigs fresh rosemary, leaves pulled off
1 bay leaf (fresh if you can find it)
1 1/2 tsp sugar
3 tbsp butter
Chopped fresh parsley, to serve
Preheat the oven to 140C.
Cut through the tendon that connects the meat to the bone at the bottom of the shank – this will allow the meat to bunch up nicely. Season the shanks generously with salt and pepper.
Heat 2 tablespoons of olive oil in a frying pan, then brown the shanks in batches for a few minutes each side, turning until browned and crunchy all over (browning creates a great depth of flavour you get once they’re cooked). Set the shanks aside.
Add the remaining olive oil, butter, onion, garlic, shallot and tomato paste to the same pan, and cook for 5 minutes over a medium heat until the onion is soft. Turn up the heat, add the wine, bring to a rapid simmer and let it bubble for 30 seconds or so to burn off the alcohol. Add the thyme, lamb stock, tomatoes, carrot, celery stick, cayenne pepper, rosemary, bay leaf, thyme and sugar to the pan and stir to combine (Note – if your pan isn’t ovenproof, at this point transfer everything to a large casserole dish and cover with the lid or 2 layers of tinfoil.)
Add the shanks and nestle them in to cover them as much as possible with the liquid. Cover, and cook in the oven for 3.5 – 4 hours (or 8 hours in the slow cooker on low), spooning cooking liquid over the shanks every now and then.
Remove from the oven and gently remove the shanks (careful as they will be very delicate) and set aside covered in foil. Discard the bay leaf, carrot and celery from the sauce, transfer to the stovetop (do this step in a saucepan if you have transferred everything to an oven to previously). Add the butter and simmer to reduce to a nice shiny sauce. You may need to add a paste of 1 tbsp cornflour mixed with 1/4 cup water to thicken it up. Taste and season with salt and cracked pepper.
I served these shanks with buttered crusty sourdough Ciabatta bread, great for mopping up the sauce. Chelsea suggests to serve the shanks over creamy mashed potatoes, with green vegetables drizzled with olive oil and sprinkled with lemon zest.