It is hard to believe that I had never really eaten lamb before I moved over here to the UK. It is a meat that I have come to love very much and I have to say that here in the UK we have beautiful lamb . . . some of the best in the world.
More often than not we have lamb chops, cutlets or steaks, and occasionally I will treat us to a shoulder or a leg. All are very, very good.
Last weekend I cooked some lamb shanks for the first time and I was very pleased with the results. They were tender and full of flavour and we both really enjoyed them!
The shank is cut from the shoulder area of the animal and is actually very lean, with very little fat marbling or cut into it. Lamb can be quite a fatty meat, so this was surprising. Because it is so lean, it truly lends itself perfectly to braising in a liquid.
A long slow braising in the oven may require more patience than frying a few chops in a pan or roasting a leg, but your patience will be more than rewarded with fork tender meat and a rich and tasty gravy.
Not to mention that, once it is covered and in the oven, it really requires no attention at all.
The resulting dish lends itself perfectly to being served with a delicious mound of buttery mashed potatoes . . . the absolute comfort meal!! It made my meat and potatoes loving husband a very, very happy camper indeed!
*Oven Baised Lamb Shanks*
Tender and juicy, with a delicious gravy. Perfect comfort food served with freshly mashed potatoes!
5 lamb shanks
2 large onions, peeled and chopped
1 large stick of celery, trimmed and chopped
2 cloves of garlic, peeled and crushed
1 pound of carrots, peeled and cut into sticks
1/2 pound of parsnips, peeled and cut into sticks
a handful of fresh rosemary leaves
400ml of lamb stock ( 1 1/2 cups)
400ml of chopped tinned tomatoes (1 3/4 cup)
2 star anise
sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 TBS red currant jelly
Preheat the oven to 180*C/350*F/ gas mark 4.
Heat some olive oil in a large skillet over medium high heat. Add the lamb shanks and brown them on all sides. Remove and place into a large roasting dish which has a lid, with the bones sticking up. Add the onions and celery to the drippings. Cook and stir over medium heat until they begin to soften. Add the garlic, carrots, parsnips and rosemary. Cook and stir for several minutes. Add the stock, tinned tomatoes, star anise, sea salt and black pepper to taste, and currant jelly. Heat through and then pour over the lamb shanks in the roaster.
Cover tightly with the lid and put into the oven. Roast for 3 hours, until the meat is very tender. Remove the lid and cook for another 15 to 20 minutes until the meat and bone begin to brown somewhat.Serve immediately with a nice pile of mashed potatoes. Serve one shank per person on a plate with some of the vegetables and gravy spooned over top.