I spend a lot of time thinking about food and looking at cookbooks - Pascal has suggested several times that I need psychiatric help due to my food obsession! I have lists and recipes coming out my ears of different foods I want to cook and this recipe has been in my mind for about two and a half years! It is very simple to make but takes three and a half hours to cook so it is not exactly a spur of the moment recipe....you need to get the timings right (ah my failing)!
This time I was prepared - I read the recipe properly so not to make any mistakes and it actually only takes about 40 minutes to prepare and the rest of the time it is cooking so you have plenty of time to read about quantum physics or......go for a drink (it's amazing what you can pack into 3 hours)!
This is a Fay Ripley recipe, and I have to say, I don't know how she does it but she always gets her recipes spot on. For once I followed the recipe correctly and did not add any extras (probably because it is cheese-free).
Ingredients for 4 big portions (you could easily stretch it to 6 especially if you do take all the meat off the bones and do sides):
1 tbsp of olive oil
4 lamb shanks (as lean as possible)
2 x 400g tins of chopped tomatoes
2 large onions chopped
1 stick of celery, chopped
400g carrots, cut into large chunks (I was super lazy and just bought a bag of ready made peeled and chopped carrots and cut them in half - it saved a lot of time)!
4 garlic cloves, crushed
A handful of fresh rosemary leaves (for once I used fresh as we are growing some in the "garden")!
400ml vegetable stock
2 star anise (I didn't actually know what these were)!
Salt and pepper
4 tsp of runny honey
Preheat the oven to 160 fan, 180 or gas mark 4.
In a large casserole dish, add the oil and brown the lamb shanks all over and then set aside. This took about 7-10 minutes.
Then add the onions and celery and fry before adding the garlic, carrots and rosemary, you may need to add a touch more oil if it starts to stick. Fry on a medium heat for 5-7 minutes.
Finally add the stock, tomatoes, star anise and season and bring to the boil. Return the meat to the dish with the bones sticking upwards and trickle the honey over the exposed meat and bone. We had to wedge the shanks together to prevent them falling over and our honey was not runny so we basically scrapped it on....it's all trial and error.
Cover with a lid and put it in the oven and cook for 3 hours - then enjoy!!
We served it with mini jacket potatoes however Fay suggests mash and a bowl of minted peas. Pascal tried to persuade me we should do pasta as a side (no surprise there) but you could have easily have just served it with no sides at all as the sauce is full of veg and very filling.
It was delicious - the lamb literally falls off the bone and is so tender. A definite family favourite or dinner party idea and so easy - so right up my street. For once the portions were too big even for us piglets so Pascal finished it off a couple of days later and pronounced it still delicious or we could have frozen it as it freezes very well which is a huge bonus.