Lamb shank with whatever

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When I see lamb shank on a menu, I find it hard not to choose it. I love the way the meat clings on for dear life to the bone the way the last autumn leaf perilously holds on to the tree. I love the burst of flavor that invariably explodes on your tongue with the first mouthful. I love the way it comforts me on a cold winter’s night. I even love the little strands of meat that collect in between my teeth.

Most of all though, I love the fact that you don’t need a recipe to cook a good shank. So long as you have a half-decent liquor and an oven that can cook it long and slow, you won’t fail.

So what follows is the method I used the last occasion I cooked shanks and this was determined by what I happened to have available to me at the time.


  • 1 lamb shank per person
  • Carrots
  • Onions
  • Celery
  • Coriander seeds (maybe a teaspoonful)
  • Fennel seeds (maybe a teaspoonful)
  • 1 red chilli
  • 1 lime
  • Garlic
  • Bottle of red wine (full-bodied)
  • Beef stock (maybe a couple of cups)
  • Tomato paste
  • Worcester sauce
  • Olive oil
  • 1 Tbsp of brown sugar
  • Anything else that you have lying around that takes your fancy



  1. I made a rub by dry-roasting the fennel and coriander seeds in a skillet for a minute or so and crushing them using a mortar and pestle.
  2. Add to this a couple of garlic cloves, some salt and pepper, a finely chopped chilli (totally optional) and the rind of the lime. Pound it to a pulp. Add a tablespoon or so of olive oil. This should be enough for a couple, if not three shanks. Make more if necessary.
  3. Smear this all over the shanks and leave to marinate for as long as you’ve got (a couple of hours should be fine, all day even better).
  4. Heat the casserole and add a glug of oil.
  5. Brown the shanks on all sides and remove.
  6. To the casserole add an onion, quartered, a couple of sliced carrots and a roughly sliced celery stalk. Stir it around for a few minutes.
  7. Add the wine, a dash Worcester sauce, perhaps a tablespoon of tomato paste, the stock and sugar. Season well.
  8. Return the shanks to the pot. The meat should be covered by the liquor. Add water if necessary.
  9. Cover and cook on a low oven for around 3 hours.
  10. Once cooked, very gently remove the shanks (you don’t want the meat to fall off). Keep them warm somewhere.
  11. Strain the liquor into a saucepan and reduce as far as you want to go. The sauce will thicken and become intense in flavor.
  12. When it is to your liking, pour it over the lamb shanks and serve with lashings of piping hot mash potato.
Re: Lamb shank with whatever

Do you use the whole bottle of wine?

Re: Lamb shank with whatever

It depends whether you want to hold back a glass for yourself! I would, however, use the whole bottle only because it is easier than trying to measure a precise amount.

Re: Lamb shank with whatever

I’m sure this dish is absolutely wonderful, but if you are feeling a bit intimidated by all those ingredients and steps, try my simple lamb shanks.

Re: Lamb shank with whatever