Having said that, I don't make it all that often, because it takes HOURS to cook (but only about 10 minutes to prepare) and I don't have a slow cooker. Since I've been running my marketing consultancy, I've been making it a bit more often as I work from home and can plan a wintery day around it.
My favourite way to make lamb shanks is to slowly simmer them in a sauce with a can of Guinness. The resulting flavours are rich and velvety. Mmmm. I first had a version of this at a friend’s place on a very cold winter’s night in 2007 and it's been on the menu ever since.
I made it last week - again - when I received my box of lamb from Silverwood Organics - if you love lamb, then check out their site - the quality and flavour is so, so much better than any lamb I think I've ever tasted!
Lamb shanks with Guinness, served on polenta with steamed broccoli
Serves 4 hungry people
- 4 x lamb shanks
- 1/3 cup plain flour
- Salt and pepper
- 3 tbs vegetable oil (I use grapeseed oil or rice bran oil – don’t use olive oil)
- 2 x large brown onions chopped
- 2 x carrots, chopped
- 300g button mushrooms, cut into quarters (optional)
- 1 can Guinness
- 2 cups water or beef stock
- 2 bay leaves
- Small bunch of chopped rosemary (can also use thyme) – fresh is best if possible, otherwise 2tsp dried
- Place the flour, salt and pepper to season into a plastic bag (I use a freezer bag). Coat the lamb shanks in the bag in the mix (you might need to do them 1-2 at a time depending on the size of the bag)
- Heat 1 tbs vegetable oil in large pot on a medium high heat on the stove
- Brown 2 of the lamb shanks in the oil, for about 2-3 minutes, until sealed all over. Remove with tongs and place in separate bowl. Add 1 tbs vegetable oil to pot and repeat with the last 2 lamb shanks.
- Reduce the heat of the stove to about medium.
- Add 1 tbs vegetable oil to pot, heat then add onions. Saute for about 2-3 minutes.
- Return the lamb shanks to the pot.
- Add the Guinness and stock/water to the pot. You want the lamb shanks to be just covered with the liquid, so you may need to add a bit more water/stock.
- Add the carrots, mushrooms, bay leaves and rosemary and stir to mix in.
- Bring to the boil then reduce to a simmer, and simmer for about 4 hours on a low heat.
- Skim the fat and any surface scum before stirring regularly every 30-45 minutes. After about 2 hours I generally lift the lid slightly so the liquid reduces to about ½ over the remaining 2 hours of cooking time. [I find placing some paper towel on top of the pot is a great way to soak up excess fat – do this 2-3 times depending on how much fat is in the shanks].
Options and variations
- This can be made in a slow cooker (I just don’t have one!). Coat the lamb shanks in flour mix, then add to slow cooker with all other ingredients. Turn on to medium and leave for about 8-10 hours.
- You can also add a can of chopped tomatoes which adds a bit of texture as well as extra veg
- This is also delicious with polenta (made according to the directions on the pack), or potato mash. I have also used steamed brown rice when I had a mash disaster...
- You can substitute the Guinness for 2 cups of red wine – equally yummy!
- It is even better when made the day before you actually want to eat it. Just skim off the congealed fat before you reheat.
- The recipe is easily doubled, but you need a very large stock pot to fit 8 lamb shanks!
What's your favourite meal to cook for your loved ones?