During my 3 year stay in the USA, lamb made very few and far between appearances, I always asked why and got the same answer…it smells when cooking. Now I have always been confused by this statement, personally I cannot ask for a better aroma to flood through my house than when cooking lamb, whether it is in a stew or a roasting in the oven.
Slow cooked, family style food which brings comfort and warmth when you indulge, in my opinion, is my signature style. This can be anything from my favourite lamb shank (or Springbok shank if you can find), to a melody of curries, the cooked to perfection oxtail, unhurried roasts or home baked breads , studded with olives, rosemary and coarse salt served with freshly made pâtés and preserves. Definitely not waistline friendly…however, I try to keep that balance of healthy vs. pure food bliss. During winter time, the later has the upper hand.
With us being in the midst of winter, there is nothing more comforting than sharing slow cooked lamb shanks, and a wonderful bottle of wine with family to shoo off the cold.
Tomato & Red Wine Braised Lamb Shank
4 lamb shanks
2 tbsp paprika
2 tsp salt
1 tsp ground black pepper
Olive Oil for frying
1 tsp white sugar
2 large onions, roughly chopped
2 cloves fresh garlic, finely diced
1 pkt celery, cleaned and roughly chopped
1 pkt carrots, peeled and roughly chopped
2 whole star anise
2 whole cloves
1 cinnamon stick
1 Knorr beef stock pot
¾ bottle of red wine (I used a Fairview La Capra Merlot)
1 can whole peeled tomatoes
1 pkt tomato paste
3 sprigs fresh rosemary
seasoning to taste
Preheat the oven to 150°C
In a plastic packet, mix the flour, paprika, salt and black pepper, place the shanks in – one at a time – and shake. You want to coat the entire shank well with the flour mixture. Set aside.
In a deep, cast iron pot, heat olive oil over a medium to high heat, brown the lamb shanks. Set aside.
Without cleaning the pot, fry the onions, carrots, celery and sugar until soft. Add the tomato paste and garlic and fry further until you see the oil starts splitting from the tomato paste.
Add the star anise, cloves cinnamon stick and stock pot. Stir before placing the lamb shanks in the pot. Cover with wine and whole peeled tomatoes and add rosemary sprigs. You want to just cover the shanks, if the wine doesn’t cover the lamb shanks, add some boiling water.
Cover the rim of the pot with flour & water glue (See Chef Note at the bottom of the page). Place the lid on top and squash, you want to have a completely sealed pot which won’t let steam escape.
Place in the oven for 4 to 5 hours. This time may vary based on your oven, so use this only as a guide. You want the shank to be so soft that you can just pull the bone out without breaking the meat apart.
Turn the oven to grill, take shanks out of the sauce and set under the grill. Careful not to burn, you just want some colour on the meat.
Using a handheld blender, blitz the sauce, if it is not thick, place it in a pot and reduce, or to cheat, thicken with corn flour.
Serve with parsley & garlic mashed potatoes and vegetables.
Flour & Water Paste:
This is a paste made from water and flour which create a type of glue which you can seal pots with to ensure that no steam escapes. Use about 1 ½ cups flour, to about 3/4 cup water, for the paste. You are looking for play dough type consistency. Working on a floured surface, shape the dough into a long sausage shape, then press the sausage onto the rim of the casserole.