There are many recipes out there for lamb shanks and without exception (unless you use a pressure cooker) they all require a long time in the oven or crock-pot. This is a particular favorite, not only because it’s quick to assemble, it’s also deeply delicious.
And yes, I’m using prunes again. I use them often in the autumn/winter months and there’s no question in my mind that they enhance many meat and game dishes with just the right amount of rich sweetness; the addition of cardamom seeds gives it an exotic fragrance and when garlic is cooked slowly over a few hours, it becomes meltingly sweet and not at all pungent (or repetitive).
Tender lamb shanks with the meat falling off the bone and bathed in a rich sauce will go very well with mashed potatoes. Keep it simple. Unless you fancy pairing it with the ‘Nightshade Pie’ recipe that I posted last week, in which case, offer some hot crusty bread to mop up the juices.
As with many slow-braised meat dishes, this will taste even better the following day so make it ahead and free up your cocktail hour if you’re entertaining at home.
Be sure to carefully pour off the excess fat before you cool and chill it overnight.
SLOW-BRAISED LAMB SHANKS WITH CARDAMOM & PRUNES
Four lamb shanks weighing approx 1lb (1/2 kilo) each
Six tablespoons of olive oil, divided
One large onion, peeled and thinly sliced
One large carrot, peeled and cut into chunks
6 oz (170g) of pitted prunes
One whole head of garlic, excess paper skin removed then cut in half around its equator
¼ teaspoon of cardamom seeds (from about 5 green cardamom pods)
2 cups (240ml) of beef broth
1 cup (120ml) of chicken broth
Sea salt, freshly ground black pepper
Pre-heat the oven to 325F (160C). Season the lamb on all sides with sea salt and freshly ground black pepper.
Heat 4 tablespoons of the oil in a wide ovenproof pan over medium heat and brown the lamb shanks all over – approx 10 minutes. Transfer the lamb to a plate and add the remaining olive oil to the pan, then add the onion and carrot, sautéing until the onion is golden – another 10 minutes.
Add the prunes, garlic (cut side down) and cardamom; stir for a couple of minutes. Pour in the beef and chicken broth and bring to a boil, then put the lamb back in the pan and cover with a tight fitting lid.
Braise in the oven for 90 minutes – turn the lamb shanks over and put back in the oven for another 90 minutes, by which time the meat should be falling off the bone.
Carefully remove the lamb to a large plate and spoon off the surface fat.
Adjust the seasoning of the pan juices then return the lamb to the pan, ladling the sauce over each piece.
Cool, cover and chill and re-heat gently, spooning the liquid over the meat before serving.