For me shank is the best cut of the lamb. When cooked correctly it is meaty, fall-off-the-bone tender who can possibly resist?
On numerous occasions I have seen braised lamb shanks being sold as ready-made meals and all I can do is shake my head in disbelief. The shanks themselves are small, served with soggy “roasted” vegetables at more than double the price of the ingredients. It is dubious whether the taste will be better than the home-cooked version. If people knew how easy it is to prepare they would have told the supermarkets to shove it a long time ago.
This was the first meal Neil cooked for me. Eventually he taught me how to prepare the dish and five years later with plenty of practise I fine-tuned it. Last year I showed you a very plain version of braised lamb shanks if you are one to enjoy the pure flavour of lamb. This recipe has got more ingredients and sauce fiends will be in heaven. One trick I discovered is to blend the onion and garlic into the sauce, which instantly gives it a richer flavour, a glossy look and thickens the sauce. However, you don’t have to do it if you are an onion-lover.
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Lamb Shanks Braised in Red Wine
Preparation: 15 mins – Cooking Time: 4 hrs
- 30ml (2 tbsp) vegetable oil
- 2 lamb shanks
- 1 onion, peeled and halved
- 4 garlic cloves, peeled
- 250ml (1 cup) red wine
- 250ml (1 cup) lamb or beef stock
- 60ml (4 tbsp) tomato purée
- 30ml (2 tbsp) brown sugar [optional]
- 1 bay leaf
- few sprigs thyme leaves or 2.5ml (1/2 tsp) dried thyme
- 30 ml (2 tbsp) corn flour
- Preheat the oven to 180°C/fan 160°C /350°F/gas mark 4.
- Heat the vegetable oil in a heavy-bottomed ovenproof pan over a moderate heat. Add the lamb shanks to the pan and brown on all sides.
- Add the onion and garlic and fry it all for a few minutes.
- Add the wine, stock, tomato purée, sugar, bay leaf and thyme to the pan and crank up the heat.
- When the contents are simmering, remove from the heat, place the lid on the pan and place in the oven.
- After 1 hour, lower the oven’s temperature to 150°C/ fan 130°C/300°F/gas mark 2 and braise for a further 2-3 hours or until the meat falls off the bone.
- Remove the pan from the oven. Place the shanks on a plate and keep warm. Throw away the bay leaf and thyme sprigs.
- Transfer the sauce to a blender or food processor and work until fairly smooth. Return to the pan, season with salt and pepper to taste and heat through.
- Mix a little water with the corn flour in a cup and slowly add it to the sauce while stirring constantly. When the sauce has thickened, serve the lamb shanks with the sauce in a gravy boat on the side.
- Roasted potatoes and parsnips, along with your favourite green vegetable. Yorkshire puddings work too!
- If you like your onions, you can always substitute the onion with 8 whole, peeled shallots. At the end of the cooking time, remove them with the lamb, skip the sauce blending step (nr.8) and just thicken the sauce.