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Lamb shanks are one of my favourite winter meals. I grew up with a mother who was a) a very good cook, and who b) knew how to make delicious meals out of cheaper cuts of meat. They have become a lot more popular in recent years so that they aren’t quite the bargain they used to be. I am sure Mum has a special moment whenever she sees them in the premium cuts of meat section of butchers and supermarkets.

Lambshanks take time to soften and grow tender. If you are gnawing on a piece of lamb flavoured rubber then they are undercooked. They reheat well and are a great option for a big family meal or winter dinner party where you need to do much of the prep in advance. Cook them on slow in the afternoon until tender.

The recipe below isn’t so much a recipe for me, as my standard way of cooking lamb shanks when I don’t feel like doing anything more interesting. I have several other more exotic recipes that feature everything from dried apricots or prunes (more Moroccan than Mediterranean in style); or an Ainsley Harriott recipe where they have more of an Indian flavour with yoghurt and cumin. Very good.

6 lamb shanks, trimmed already, you might need to trim a bit more fat off
3 medium onions
6 cloves of garlic
2-3T olive olive
4-6 stems of fresh rosemary
1/2 bottle of full bodied red wine like a cab sav or a shiraz
3 cans of Italian whole peeled tomatoes (450g tins)
1tsp sea salt
pepper

Halve the onions, and slice. Roughly chop the garlic. Heat the oil in a large heavy based pan over medium to low heat and cook the onions and garlic until softened and caremalised. Remove from the pan.  Increase the heat of the pan and brown the lambshanks. Place lambshanks in a roasting pan and add onion mixture.

Deglaze the frying pan with the red wine, then add the tomatoes and roughly break up with a wooden spoon. Add the salt and pepper and bring to near boil.

Arrange the rosemary around and between the lambshanks. Pour or scoop over the red wine and tomato mixture. If you have a walloping huge Le Creuset frying pan like me scooping can be less crippling on the wrists! Note that I sometimes braise the shank mixture in the Le Creuset pan rather than transferring to a roasting pan. Depends on the size of the lamb shanks and whether I adjust the recipe quantities.

Give everything in the roasting pan a bit of a fiddle around so that the shanks have all had a coating of the wet mixture,  and the mixture is distributed evenly. The shanks should be about 1/4 to 1/3 exposed. Cover loosely with a piece of tin foil and place in a medium low oven (130C to 150C). This is where I get vague. Until cooked! Maybe 2.5 hours or so depending on your oven. You will need to turn them with a pair of tongs every half and hour or so to ensure they don’t get dry. They are done when the meat is literally falling off the bone. You can tell this by giving one  a poke with a fork and if the meat just separates with a wee nudge you are sorted.

Serve with either cous cous or mashed potato. And some steamed greens such as beans or broccoli.

They freeze really well. I tend to strip the meat off the bone and freeze in individual portions with some of the jus mixture.

Other ideas – strip the meat off the bone and use the lamb / wine mixture as the filling for a pie.

Photo coming when they are out of the oven.

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