Where has the year gone? In a few weeks I am graduating from college again and it just so happens to be falling on the American holiday of Thanksgiving, which is November 27th this year.
We are all taking a day off and I’m even going to bring the kids to the ceremony at NUI Galway, because I think it is important for them to see how much of a big deal it really is. We are all looking forward to the celebrations and closing out the last five years of me being a full time mature student. Once that has passed, there will only be a few weeks left to Christmas and I don’t know about you all, but we are very much looking forward to a quiet Christmas at home by the fire. The forecasters are calling for a really harsh winter, and while I hope they are wrong, I will not deny making a more concerted effort to stack the turf closer to the back door this year!
One of the easiest dinners to make, suitable for a cold winter evening, is slow cooked Lamb Shanks. The shanks are affordable, they usually run around €3.50 each, and most butchers will carry them this time of year.
If you attempt to cook this one, I like to make an extra bigger batch because the leftovers can be made into a lovely soup or base for a pasta sauce later in the week. Enjoy!
Slow Cooked Lamb Shank
This recipe is traditionally made with Veal and labeled Osso Bucco in Italy, where it originates. As Veal is not something you find easily at the butchers, we have grown accustomed to making this classic Italian dish with much smaller, and more succulent, Lamb shanks. We like to allow one and a half shanks per adult.
Ingredients (4 adults)
- 4 large carrots
- 2 sticks of celery
- 2 large onions
- 1 leek
- Small bunch of fresh parsley, mint and sage
- 2 Tbsp butter
- 2 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
- 6 Lamb shanks
- 1 small tin of tomato puree
- 500ml bottle of beer
- 500ml chicken/veg stock
- Salt and black pepper
Dice the carrots, celery, onions and leek. Roughly chop the fresh herbs. Allow Lamb shanks to come to room temperature.
Rub with a little olive oil, then salt and pepper them well on all sides. Set aside for a few minutes.
Sauté all the vegetables and herbs in oil and butter on a medium heat for fifteen minutes, until the vegetables have softened, but are not brown.
Remove vegetables from pan, crank the heat up and sauté the lamb until brown the Lamb on all sides (ten minutes).
Once the meat has browned, and the pan is getting sticky, pour in a 500ml bottle of Beer (Clew Bay Ale is nice). Add the vegetables back into the pan and allow to simmer for ten minutes.
Add one tin of tomato puree and 500ml of chicken or vegetable stock. Stir with a wooden spoon until it is all mixed in together. Cover with a tight fitting lid and simmer on medium–low heat for two hours, turning the Lamb shanks over after one hour.
Best served on a bed of mashed potatoes or homemade buttered noodles.
This meal can be made a few days in advance and the recipe would also work nicely with everything just thrown into your slow cooker and left to simmer for 4–5 hours.
While not necessary, a glass of red wine accompanies this dish beautifully.
Similar results can also be achieved without any beer in the recipe, just add water or more stock.