Monday 18 February 2008

Recipe: Lamb Shanks double-roast, in Red Wine Sauce

Lamb Shanks. Search for them in any traditional British or French recipe book and you'll search in vain - which is surprising, really, as they seem entirely in keeping with French peasant cooking of the Cassoulet-and-Beans type. Full of flavour, and definitely trencherman's fare! I was interested to find recipes other then my one tried-and-trusted, though, and having looked for them without success in all of the places I would have thought to find them - Carrier, Willan, Grigson - I finally resorted to Larousse Gastronomique and Mrs Beeton. And the mystery was solved. In demonstrating the cuts of lamb available in different countries, Larousse Gastronomique showed a baleful looking beast in various formats, with the dotted 'tear-here' lines indicating how things work in different countries: the French and British versions clearly have rear 'Legs' that go all the way up to the saddle, whilst their American cousin has an extra dotted line delineating the shank as a separate cut. And if you then go and consult Mrs Beeton (from an edition circa 1890), you find the same baleful beast (eerily identical, in fact) as the American Lamb, but in this instance the animal is a mature Sheep, and the cuts are for Mutton. From which one can only assume that it was at that point in history that the transatlantic difference appeared, and that the US cuts of Lamb are in fact the Victorian cuts for Mutton, as Mrs B would have clearly recognised. the recipe. This is unusual in that it is effectively a traditional roast, which is then treated as a pot-roast, and ends up having the best results of both methods: crisp on the outside and meltingly tender within. For absolutely the best result, cook this recipe to completion the day before you want to serve it, and then re-heat it, in its sauce, under some foil, in an oven heated to around 170 degrees C.

For Two.

Ingredients: Two Lamb Shanks; 1 tablespoon Olive Oil; 2 medium sized sprigs of Rosemary; 1 large Garlic Clove, minced; Seasoning; 1 large glass of Red Wine (something quite robust is best).


1. Heat the oven to 220 degrees C.

2. Strip the leaves from the Rosemary sprigs and chop them finely - you should have about a tablespoon of chopped leaves. Combine these in a small bowl with the Garlic, Oil, and Seasoning to taste. Mix well and rub all over the Lamb Shanks.

3. Roast the Shanks one hour in the pre-heated oven. At the end of this time, remove the roasting pan with the Shanks from the oven, and remove the fat from the pan.

4. Turn the oven down to 170 degrees C. Pour the Red Wine into the roasting pan, cover the whole thing loosely with foil, and return the pan to the oven for a further 30 minutes. At the end of this time, if the sauce in the pan (the wine and cooking juices combined) is still too liquid, remove the Shanks to warm plates and reduce the sauce briefly in a small saucepan on the stove before pouring it over the Lamb to serve.


Joanna said...

Interesting about the cutting. I've noticed that the rise of the lamb shank in the UK coincided with supermarkets providing that baleful cut, the half leg of lamb ... too small to roast effectively, and what's wrong with leftovers anyway?


sarahjane said...

Would you suggest, if one is preparing this dish the day before serving, skimming the sauce before reheating ? Or will this be unnecessary because of the nature of the emulsion ?

This lovely recipe does remind me of one I have made in the past [I added lamb stock as well as wine, however, to the post-roasting sauce] but it was quite fatty.

Thank you in advance.

Pomiane said...

It all depends on what it looks like: if there are obvious bits of solidified fat there, then it would be a good idea to remove them....if there's nothing visible to the idea, then I'd just go ahead and re-heat.

sarahjane said...

Thank you for the feedback !

I have made it, and while I added quite a sturdy Cab Sav, I am very taken with the almost jewel-like claret tones to the glaze on the shanks, even with that marvellous rosemary/garlic crust.

You're absolutely right though; after removing the oil from the pan post-roasting, there appears to be very little in the way of fatty residue after I had completed the 'pot roasting' stage of the recipe.

And there is a marvellous 'gloopiness' to the sticky sauce as well. Very impressed.

Thank you again ...

Clairek said...

I am planning a dinner party for New Year and want to cook this the day before and reheat. How much longer would i need to cook the lamb shanks for both parts if i make this for 10 people?

Pomiane said...

As long as the shanks are laid out in a single layer in the roasting pan, you shouldn't need to make any adjustment to the times quoted in the recipe. Ten shanks ought to fit in a normally large roasting pan, if laid alternately top-to-tail.
Definitely a good idea to cook the day before and re-heat...not only does it cut down hassle on the day, but the flavours get even better with the 24 hour delay.