Slow cooked summery lamb shanks recipe. Simmered with apricots and tomatoesPosted by Fiona Nevile in Lamb | 2 comments
Years ago lamb shanks were a very cheap cut of meat. Now, with the return to forgotten cuts, they have become increasingly popular and the price for a couple of shanks has become quite high. So when I found a couple of these tasty lovelies half price on the Tesco CFC I squirreled them into my basket with a trill.
Lamb shanks, like oxtail, always used to flag a warming winter dish to me. Judging by the amount of shanks that appear regularly on the CFC at this time of year most people would agree.
But why not try and create a summery dish? The sort of tantalising plate that might be guzzled way off the beaten track in France or Italy – with a wedge of fresh crusty bread and a carafe of good local red wine. Simple and delicious food, eaten elbows in, amongst people that expect to eat well every day.
My friend Bunty grew up in France. She calls her meals ‘peasant food’. She has cooked me some of the best dishes that I’ve tasted. The secret is simple – imagination and seasonal ingredients. She does have a few vital tips.
“Of course bone in joints create a much better sauce. If you are watching the pennies removing the meat from the bones before serving is an excellent way of disguising the fact that you don’t have a lot of meat in your pot. Add loads of vegetables and a few beans as they soak up the meat juices and satisfy completely.”
Most people also think of a slow cooker/crock pot as a winter appliance. Having played around with the slow cooker I reckon that this is crazy as there are so many dishes that can be cooked throughout the year. The key is to give each dish a seasonal feel by adding fresh local vegetables and herbs. Slow cooking improves the flavour of casseroles, curries, stews and so much more.
Our best light bolognaise sauce http://www.cottagesmallholder.com/our-best-bolognaise-sauce-recipe-847 simmers away throughout the year in our slow cooker. The same ingredients cooked on the stove top just don’t taste as good. Stove top cooking and oven baking also use a lot more electricity. The slower cooker is a simple device – it improves flavours and saves fuel. It’s a win win.
Sometimes, when we are trying to develop a new recipe we have to try two or three times to come up with a recipe that works well and tastes good. Anyone for a week of burgers, toad in the hole, savoury pancakes? Luckily the kitchen sprites were fluttering around and the first attempt of the lamb dish tasted great.
Our two shanks were quite weighty so easily fed us for two meals which can only be a bonus. Not having crusty bread I teamed them with minty couscous – very easy to make if you have a lot of mint to hand. With cous cous we always use stock rather than water to give it more flavour. The minty cous cous cut through the richness of the lamb and was far better than the basmati rice that we tried with the dish the next day.
The left over juices made a very good soup for lunch on the third day.
Slow cooked summery lamb shanks recipe
200g of flageolet beans (rinsed and soaked the night before)
900g of lamb shanks
1 medium red onion
150g of soft dried (ready to eat) apricots – halved
500ml of hot lamb stock – I used a stock cube
5 chunky garlic cloves – peeled
1 tbsp of coriander powder
1 tsp of ginger powder
5 allspice berries
1 tbsp of honey
1 tbsp of mushroom ketchup
Half tsp of anchovy sauce
Half tsp of Lea & Perrins
2 x 400g tins of chopped tomatoes
2 tbsp of flour
Rinse the soaked flageolet beans. Cover with fresh water and simmer rapidly for 20 mins and drain.
Mix the flour with a little of the stock to form a runny paste and stop the flour sticking to the base of the pot.
Add all the ingredients – except the lamb shanks – to the pot and stir well
Place the lamb shanks in the pot
Turn to high for an hour or until the liquid is bubbling and then switch to low for at least 4 hours. Test the shanks and the beans after 3 hours just in case.
Serve with crusty bread or herby cous cous
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