One of the best parts of the lamb is the shank. The shank is the lower part of the leg, the shin really. It's a secondary cut of meat and actually used to relegated to the dog bone bin at the butcher. A few years ago I only used to pay only about a dollar each, but now with their increasing popularity, they can be relatively expensive -so you want to make sure you cook them juuuuust riiiight. It best suits a long, gentle braise with lots of liquid to help break down the meat and leave it so tender that it just falls away from the bone at a touch. Another benefit of cooking meat this way is that you can pretty much set and forget it. You can get on with the rest of your day, mingle with friends, whip up a magical dessert, all while your braise works it's magic.
Nice meaty lamb shanks, one per person
A bottle of Italian Passata, or a couple of tins of crushed tomatoes
A good cup of red wine
Some extra flavors for yumminess- garlic,herbs,spices
Searing the meat and browning it before braising is a really important tip to add extra flavour and colour to the dish. It also creates a nice crust on the meat and caramelises the natural sugars.
Sear and seal the meat in some hot oil. Put them in a dish large enough to hold them with room for liquid to come at least 2/3 up the sides.
Add in the red wine, passata and other flavours - today I used cinnamon sticks, lemon rind strips and some garlic cloves. Salt and pepper are a given of course, and I also added in about a teaspoon of sugar to cut the acid in the tomatoes.
Cover the dish tightly with foil to keep the moisture in and stick it in the oven at around 160 to 180*C.
Forget all about it for the next 2 1/2 hours. If you do happen to remember it's there, you could spoon the sauce over the shanks or turn them over once or twice. The meat should be just about falling off the bones and be very, very tender.
Check the sauce and if it's still a bit thin, you can quickly reduce it on the stove. It should have thickened up a little while it was hibernating in the oven.
I like to serve my shanks with some smooth, creamy mashed potatoes and some just still crunchy green beans or carrots. I also sprinkled on some gremolata, a mix of chopped raw garlic, parsley and lemon rind that adds a fantastic zingy fresh bite to a rich dish like this. A braise can be a bit one dimensional with all the flavours mingling, so this will help wake it up a bit.
Spoon the sauce over the meat generously and dig in!
So dear Readers, what do you think of secondary cuts and what will you be serving at Easter?