Well, once again I have been neglecting the blog, due to eating lots of things that I’ve written about previously, but here is a cracking dish to post about.

Lamb shanks are one of those cuts that used to be seen as cheap cuts but which have become fashionable over the last decade, rather like belly pork and the cheaper steak cuts.

It needs a slow cook and isn’t really suitable for roasting. It is at it’s best with moisture.

Therefore, it is a braising cut, which really comes into it’s own in the Autumn and Winter.

This dish was made with the following;

1 lamb shank per person
Bacon lardons
4 chopped leeks
4 chopped carrots
2 cloves of garlic
Half a bottle of red wine
A carton of tomato passata
A drained tin of cannellini beans
Salt, pepper and 1 teaspoon of dried thyme

First I sealed the lamb in olive oil in a heavy-bottomed ovenproof casserole with a lid. Then I removed it and sautéed the lardons, carrots, leeks and garlic in the same oil. Then I added in the wine and scraped all the sticky bits from the bottom of the pan.

Once the wine was bubbling away, I added in the salt, pepper, thyme and passata and mixed everything in nicely, returning the lamb to the pan.

When this started to bubble, I lowered the heat and covered the pan, allowing the lamb to braise in the liquid for about an hour.

After an hour or so, I turned the shanks over and added in the drained beans, together with some hot water to stop the sauce from drying out.

After another 45 minutes, the meat was nearly done and the sauce was nicely reduced, so I put it into a medium oven to continue cooking.

After about 2 and a half hours in total it was ready. I like the meat to be really tender and coming away from the bone.

I served it with mashed potatoes with a tablespoon of wholegrain mustard stirred in.

You could serve a green vegetable too, steamed cabbage would be good.

As to wine, pretty much any decent red will work, but I always think that softly fruity wines, maybe Rioja and Rhône reds, work best, but they need some tannin and backbone. We drank a 2009 Beaumes-de-Venise AOC Côtes du Rhône Villages with our dinner.

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