Braised Lamb Shanks with rosemary, and anchovy butter
By Sam Wass, Medium Well
Although mint sauce is the accompaniment we naturally associate with lamb, the marriage of rosemary and lamb is a happy one, which you should familiarise yourself with, especially in the autumn, when British lamb shanks are especially good because they come from spring born lambs that have grazed on lush hillside grass lands and heather all summer long. In our opinion this gives the lamb shanks a natural sweetness, which compliments the twiggy almost sharp flavour of the rosemary.
Rosemary is a synch to grow at home in a small pot, indoors or outdoors, and it flowers in early spring, and then on and off throughout to autumn. Along with lamb, it's also worth trying with beef, as although not very common here, Italians often insert the whole twig into a whole beef fillet much as we do with lamb. If you want an even easier place to start with rosemary try tossing some roast potatoes in a handful of chopped rosemary for the last 20 mins of cooking – yum yum!
This recipe suggestion uses foil parcels cooked in the oven, but it would work equally well in a slow cooker, for those of you that prefer that style of cooking. It's really easy to prepare, and because our lamb shanks are restaurant standard it makes a perfect main course for a dinner party.
- 4 x 454g British Lamb Shanks
- 4 cloves garlic, cut into slices
- 1 tablespoon of finely chopped fresh rosemary
- a small tin of anchovies
- 100g soft butter
- Glass of red wine
- 2 carrots
- 1 leek
- Sea Salt
- Ground Black Pepper
Preheat the oven to 150°C/300°F/gas 2. and then make small cuts all over the lamb shanks and insert a sliver of garlic into each cut.
Cream the butter with eight anchovy fillets and the rosemary (you can use a food processor if you prefer. Using your finger tips (or the back of a spoon), rub the flavoured butter over the lamb shanks.
Cut four arm-length (50 cm) pieces of tin foil and fold them in half, than wash, peel and slice the leek and carrots, and then divide them in four and place them in the centre of each piece of foil.
Place the lamb shanks on top of the leek and carrots (bone side up) and then pull up the sides of the foil around the shank. Pour a swig of red wine over the veg at the bottom of the foil parcel, season the lamb and veg to taste with sea salt and pepper, and then gather the foil around the bone and pinch and wrap it together (just as you would with a jacket potato). Repeat for the other three shanks, and then place on a baking sheet, bone side up and cook in the oven for 3½ to 4 hours. Check the parcels after 2 hours and if needed add another glug of wine to keep things moist.
Take the parcels out of the oven and allow to rest for 10-15 minutes before serving with some simple potatoes (either mash or roasted). If sharing the experience is your thing, you can serve the lamb shank parcels still wrapped so your guests can open them up themselves.