It’s the middle of winter. It has been raining torrentially for weeks (it seems). The streets are flooded and your shoes, socks and trousers are soaked within minutes of leaving the house. So what do you do? Get out the crock pot and fill your house with the warmth and aromas of slow-cooking. This recipe is a modified version of one from whitehat.
An electric slow cooker or a crock pot is all you need to make this meal happen.
4 Frenched lamb shanks*
1 large brown onion
6 garlic cloves
1 cinnamon stick, halved
2 fresh bay leaves (or 1 dried one)
4 tsp tomato paste
1 can diced tomatoes
2 cups dry white wine
freshly ground salt and pepper
1 tbsp brown sugar
1 tbsp cooking oil
1 spring onion, chopped
If you are using a slow cooker then you first need a pan on the stove to brown the meat. If you are using a casserole dish or crock pot then that is all you need.
Heat oil in the pan or casserole dish on the stove. On medium heat brown the shanks for 2-3 minutes, turning to get some colour on all sides. Remove shanks and set aside.
Add chopped onion and garlic to the pan and soften. Add tomato paste and continue to stir fry for one minute.
Deglaze the pan with one cup of white wine. Stir and scrape crunchy bits from the bottom. That is where the flavours are. Add the can of chopped tomatoes, the cinnamon stick, crushed garlic. Season with ground pepper, a little salt and the sugar.
If you are using a slow cooker, place the shanks in the bottom and cover with the other ingredients.
If you are using a crock pot in the oven then return the shanks to the pot. Ensure the shanks are in one layer so they cook evenly in not too much liquid. Cover the shanks and mixture with aluminium foil to keep the steam close to the meat.
Cook slowly (in the slow cooker up to 8 hours; oven 3.5 to 4 hours at 180 degrees C) turning the shanks occasionally.
Be sure to occasionally top up the liquid with wine, so the sauce mixture does not dry out on the pan. You can use thin stocks such as chicken to top up the sauces but avoid anything too rich as the the final sauce will be rich enough.
The shanks are cooked when the meat falls away from the bone.
Serve shanks with a generous helping of the sauce and a side of vegetables or mash.
Garnish with chopped spring onion.
Serves 4 (or 2 very hungry people)
* Frenched lamb shanks are shanks that have been trimmed by the butcher to remove excess fat and tendon. Some butchers may cut the tendon from the bone and tuck the meat up into itself like pantaloons. This isn’t necessary as the slow-cooking will work it’s own magic on the presentation of the meat.