A lamb shank by any other name would taste as sweet…
As the temperature plummets to sinister levels, I find myself stuffing as much food into the oven as possible so as to have the oven on to heat up the kitchen as well as satisfy the belly.
The dining table takes centre stage in the kitchen adorned with laptops, colouring books and cups of steaming tea as the family congregate to participate in the meals preparation if only by timely ohhhhs and ahhhhhs.
This lamb shank dish is a not-so-classic version of a classic winter warmer ~ Gently braised until the meat falls from the bone, and a gold tinged sauce is reduced from the braising liquid to form a smooth and tender pool in a sea of creamy mashed potato.
8 lamb shanks ~French trimmed ( allow 2 shanks per adult and 1 per child)
1 cup/ 250mls tomato paste
1/3 cup tomato ketchup
4 Tbs brown sugar
6 carrots- roughly chopped skin and all!
1 large onion- roughly chopped skin and all!
8 bulbs of garlic- roughly chopped skin and all!
1 knob of ginger ~ roughly grated
2 tsp fennel seeds
2 tsp coriander seeds
2 tsp cumin seeds
2 tsp aniseed
4 star anise
3 cinnamon quills
1/2 cup oyster sauce
1/2 cup sweet chilli sauce
handful of parsley stalks
salt and pepper
1.5 kg of potatoes good for mashing ~ peeled, chopped into cubes and soaking in water
1 cup of milk (or cream fro PURE decadence)
50g unsalted butter
Please note: If you are making this dish for dinner, it will pay to start it in the early afternoon, as it needs 3-4 hours of gentle braising.
- Preheat the oven to 200C/ 400F on fan bake.
- Prepare the shanks for roasting by using a sharp knife, cut around each shank, about 2.5cms or 1 inch from the bottom end of the shank which is the “thin end” of the shank. Slicing around the entire bone will help the meat to pull back while its cooking to give you that off the bone look to your shank.
- Into a large heavy roasting tray, preferably cast iron place the shanks, carrots, onions, garlic and ginger.
- Slap over the tomato paste and ketchup and sprinkle on the brown sugar
- Place the tray into the oven and roast for 35-45 minutes or until browned nicley and caramelised and syrupy
- Whilst the shanks roast prepare the spices by dry toasting the fennel, coriander, cumin and aniseed seeds for a couple of minutes in a frying pan. Watch them carefully as you dont want them to burn. What you are trying to do is to heat them so as to coax the oils and flavors out of them.
- After a couple of minutes of gentle coaxing, place into a mortar and pound, or into a spice grinder and grind to a rough powder.
- Into a LARGE pot place the spices, oyster and sweet chilli sauce and parsley stalks.
- Once the shanks have finished roasting, scrape the entire contents of the roasting tray into the pots, trying to get off any crusty bits that may have burnt on to the sides. There is LOADS of flavor in those crunchy bits, so scrap the dish well!
- Fill the pot with warm water until tits contents are just covered. Season well with salt and bring to a gentle boil.
- Allow the pot to boil for 3-4 hours, stirring occasionally to make sure that the shank’s totally submerged through out the cooking process.
- Prepare the potatoes for mashing by boiling unitl tender with a sprinkle of salt. Strain and mash well with the butter and milk ( or cream) if using. Taste for flavor, adding salt and pepper where needed. Keep warm on the stove top with a lid on it unitl shanks are done.
- The shanks are ready when the meat is near to falling off the bone. Remove the shanks from the pot and leave off to the side whilst you prepare the gravy.
- Strain the contents of the pot using a deep colander , retaining all the liquid which will become your gravy. When straining the gravy, use a heavy wooden spoon to squash the vegetables into the colander to extract as much flavor and liquid as possible from the mess.
- Place the roasting tray direclty on to the cooktop and heat on high. Pour in the liquid and allow to bubble and reduce until it thickens and becomes glossy.
- Return the shanks to the gravy to re heat slightly.
- Serve by placing a mound of potato in the the center of a deep bowl plate and top with one or two shanks. Pour over a generous pool of gravy and finish with a selection of lightly steamed greens for contrasting crunch. Green beans, asparagus or broccolini work well here.