Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Lamb Shanks

After being given 2 lamb shanks and a handful of vegetables on Friday, I checked out Good Housekeeping Cook's Book, a book that tells you everything you need to know before you start following a recipe. It noted that Lamb Shanks would normally be braised for 3 hours. The page on braising suggested that, after browning, the meat should be put on a bed of aromatic vegetables (called a mirepoix if you're feeling posh, or are actually using onions, carrots and celery in the proportion 2:1:1) and some stock and/or other liquid poured in. So here's what I did:

2 Lamb Shanks
2 Medium or 1 Large Onion roughly chopped (as might be imagined, I actually used one medium and half a leftover large onion)
2 or 3 Stalks of Celery, roughly chopped
2 or 3 Cloves of Garlic, peeled
a Fistful of Rosemary
Half a Lamb Stockcube
Olive Oil
Salt, Pepper to taste

Brown the shanks in a large casserole in a little Olive Oil. Put to one side; we're going to be quick so they don't need to be kept warm. Throw the Onion, Celery and Garlic into the casserole and cook on a high heat for just long enough for the kettle to boil. Make up some stock with the half Stockcube and the water from the kettle. Stir the vegetables, add a little Salt, a generous amount of Pepper and the Rosemary, then add the stock, making sure it doesn't cover the vegetables. Put the Shanks back into the casserole and turn the heat down. Put the lid on and leave for 3 hours. You can make a cup of tea with the hot water left in the kettle if you want.

After three hours, check the meat. It should be cooked, and nearly falling off the bone. Put the shanks to one side (keep them warm this time), bring the liquid to the boil and reduce. Then use a hand held whizzy thing, or a food processor, or you can do that thing with a sieve and a spoon they used to do before electric appliances came along; anyway, purée the vegetables and stock. It makes a nice sauce for the shanks; it's a little dull grey-looking, and tastes of garlic and rosemary; if these turn you off, maybe a touch of wine in the casserole after browning the meat three hours before would work, or you can use your favourite lamb flavourings.