Up until a month ago I have always cooked lamb shanks in my Le Creuset as a braise and have always been happy with the result. The shanks were always dusted with seasoned flour and then browned in oil in frying pan first and then transferred to the casserole along with onion, carrot, tomato paste, thyme, garlic, a can of tomatoes, beef stock and a splash of red wine. This is my basic family recipe although if cooking for adults I often add anchovies or olives and a much bigger splash of red wine.I also really like lamb shanks taken off the bone and turned into a pie topped with parsnip.
After interviewing Hester Guy on Radio Live a couple of weeks ago my shank cooking has turned another direction. Hester’s slow cooked lamb shanks are delicious. The whole dish is cooked in roasting pan so the meat is more roasted than casseroled. Rather than using a splash of red wine Hester opts for the entire bottle – although there is a lot of reducing going on.
I also like thickening with kneaded butter – in this method butter and flour are rubbed together or you can make a bulk amount in the food proccessor and then freeze for further use. The butter crumbs are then sprinkled over a hot (not boiling dish) and gently stirred. This method of thickening makes a more smooth and luscious sauce than the traditional flour and water thickening.
Which ever method you choose for your shanks they are delicious when accompanied by kumara, parsnip or potato mash.