I've been a bit silent this week, I know. I was in Aberdeen on Monday, Glasgow on Tuesday, had Wednesday at home in London and then spent last night at the Portuguese embassy for the Wines of Portugal awards dinner presented by the Portuguese ambassador. No Ferrero Rocher, sadly (!) although I was treated to a sumptuous dinner including a foie gras tart with roasted quail, glazed grapes and wild mushrooms (divine), and a lovely bit of red mullet topped with an artichoke heart in tempura (sensational). I could have eaten a whole plate of that divine tempura-d artichoke!
Anyway, this hopefully explains the silence. A quietish weekend beckons and I am in heaven now that I can relax and spend some time in the kitchen. Last weekend, I decided to try my hand at cooking lamb shanks. I love the way this cut just falls off the bone, meltingly tender, when cooked the right way. It is something I quite often order when I eat out but something that also often disappoints me - usually when it is cooked too quickly and ends up tough and chewy.
I was inspired by several fellow bloggers who have cooked up delicious and comforting-looking lam shanks recently. Pixie, over at the marvellous 'You say tomato... I say tomato', enjoyed an interesting version on New Year's Day. She cooked the shanks in foil parcels, flavouring them with white wine and herbs. Fred and Ginger, over at Dinner Diary, then took inspiration from Pixie and braised their lamb shanks in red wine, with a base of vegetables and herbs. I decided to do something similar, using the bits I had lying around. It was all a bit experimental and unplanned but it turned out absolutely delcious - the meat was so tender and the juices very flavoursome. It was quite a rustic dish, perfect for chilly nights with a glass of rich red. I made this just for myself, but give a recipe for 2. Adjust the quantities for the number of people you have.
Lamb shanks with rosemary and redcurrant (with thanks to Pixie and Fred and Ginger for inspiration)
2 lamb shanks (preferably from a good butcher)
1 large onion, roughly chopped
1 clove garlic, finely chopped
1 large carrot (or 2 small ones), diced
1 stick of celery, sliced
2 glasses red wine
1/2 pint stock (I used lamb stock cubes)
1 tablespoon tomato purée
couple of sprigs of rosemary
1 heaped tablespoon redcurrant jelly
1. Pre-heat oven to 160C. Take a large casserole dish and heat a little oil over a medium heat. Add the lamb shanks and brown all over, seasoning with salt and pepper as you go. Remove and set to one side.
2. Add onions and garlic to the pan and soften (add a little more oil if needs be). After a couple of minutes, add the carrot and celery too. After 5 minutes, stir in the tomato purée. Add the wine and turn up the heat until wine starts to simmer.
3. Add herbs, stock and redcurrant jelly. Stir to combine. The liquid should reach halfway up the lamb shanks - add more if necessary.
4. Place lid on the casserole dish and then place in the oven on a low shelf for 2-2 1/2 hours*.
5. Remove from oven, taste sauce and adjust seasoning if necessary. Serve with mashed potatoes for the ultimate in comfort. I served mine with baked potatoes instead and this was also good.