Updated: Apr 10
I am not disappointed. I am not.
However, yesterday it snowed in London and I had not envisaged that, come the first Saturday in April, with the clocks having just changed, I would be making winter food that require three, four hours of cooking.
It is baltic though and as I have got the mother of all colds - not COVID thank Goodness - I cannot be in the pub or out walking, Here I am instead cooking away like it's November the 15th…
For this delightful afternoon I chose to make lamb shanks. Having managed to sneak out to the shops to get my ingredients I am glad to be back indoors as all those penguins out there were distracting me greatly from the things I needed to buy.
In the spirit of localism, I went to the butcher but the most local I could find was welsh lamb, which let's face it, is normally the tastiest and juiciest us Londoners can ever get our hands on.
Not sure how many people reading this post really need a recipe but, just in case, here goes:
INGREDIENTS FOR TWO HUNGRY ADULTS:
2 x lamb shanks;
2 x large carrots;
4 x stalks of celery;
1 x Kg of baby onions or shallots;
1 x garlic bulb;
600 ml of yum red wine;
400 ml of chicken or vegetable stock;
flour for dusting;
The first thing to do is cover the shanks with flour and brown them in a deep casserole (this will later need to contain a considerable amount of liquid and all the veggies).
Once the shanks are sealed, deglaze the casserole with a splash of wine and add the chopped carrots and celery which will need to almost fry there for two minutes or so, then add some more wine and allow to cook for the same amount of time.
Whilst this happens you can tackle the onions.
You know that trick that some suggest to stop the crying when dealing with this most tear inducing bulb? Wet a spoon and put it in your mouth so that the metal will absorb the gas released by the onions... bla bla bla? Well I find it does not work at all, so I choose a more menial approach: wear swimming goggles and be done with it. The only problem I have is I wear them so tight to make sure no tears will be spilled, that by the end of it all they are mascara smudged anyway - see photo.
You are now ready to add the shanks, rosemary, baby onions and garlic (those wanting to engage in some after dinner kissy-kissy activities do not need to worry: the lengthy cooking will cancel out the smells of these last two normally stinky but tasty items - so, no problem).
Let cook for five more minutes to give the meat the chance to absorb the lovely concentrated flavours.
Now add the wine and the stock and cover. You can choose to put the casserole in the oven or let it bubble away on low heat on the stove (this is what I do as it allows me better control in case I want to taste and correct the flavour - I should not but I normally decide to add salt at some point during the cooking).
It will need to cook for two hours at the very least, but better if you keep it on for three or four.
If you want to use the oven go for 180c.
Remember, there is no such a thing as overcooking lamb shanks, your objective is that the meat literally comes off the bone by you just looking at it, by the force of your mind.
You can serve it with mash potatoes, the traditional option, maybe with spring onions finely chopped in, but I prefer new potatoes, which I boil, peel ad jump in a pan with a bit of butter and rosemary, my favourite herb in the whole wide world, I don't know, I just find this option fresher and lighter.
Now, we should say, "hey presto, dinner is served!", but, as it would have taken 3 or 4 hours, it is in fact "hey tardi" (the very opposite of presto).
It really is the easiest thing you can make and on a cold "April winter evening" one of the most satisfying and tasty as well!
Alright amici, stay tuned for more delicious (if foolproof) recipes.