Why Lamb Shanks?
My family often agrees how lucky they are to have a chef in the family who loves to cook for all, however there are times every now and then that our food tastes don’t quite match. Lamb shanks being one.
I can’t quite understand why my family don’t love the succulent sweet yet heartiness of lamb shanks, and having said that, they continue to not see why I do.
I have a dear friend however that does share my passion for this delicious meat and so, every time I have a craving I make extra for her. This recipe is for my dear friend Pat, who will always love my lamb shanks.
I also am a fan of lamb shanks because they are as easily prepared for one as they are for five. This is great because, cooking for one can be a challenge with many one pot meals and slow cooked meats. Simply half this recipe and you will have a delicious dinner for one.
Lamb shanks are great to match with any flavours from classic French to the warm spices of the Middle East. I however, love to mix the two and this is my variation of a classically cooked lamb shank and the warm earthy sweet flavours of the Middle East.
4 small lamb shanks
2 carrots, chopped
2 celery stalks, chopped
6 cloves garlic, crushed
1 Spanish onion, sliced thinly
1 1/2 cups dried chickpeas, soaked in water over night
1 400gr tin crushed tomatoes
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
3 tablespoons French seeded mustard
6-8 dried figs, preferably Turkish
3 tablespoons vegetable oil
3 tablespoons plain flour
1/2 bunch flat leaf parsley, chopped roughly
You need to start this recipe the night before by soaking the chickpeas in water. As a general rule when soaking any dried beans or legumes I allow twice as much water to the amount of dried beans and soak for a minimum of 6 hours.
The next day, heat a large earthenware pot or casserole dish with a lid with 2 tablespoons of vegetable oil. Meanwhile in a large bowl mix the plain flour with a pinch of salt and pepper. Dust the lamb shanks and place in the heated pot. Brown on each side until dark and golden, don’t worry if a little flour sticks to the base of your pot this adds much desired flavour.
Take the lamb shanks out to rest in a bowl and turn down the heat. Add the third tablespoon of vegetable oil and add the chopped carrots, celery, onion, and garlic. Sweat down your vegetables until translucent, and add the drained chickpeas. Add ground cinnamon and season with salt and pepper.
Add the tomatoes, 800ml water and mustard and stir well. Bring the chickpeas to a simmer and continue to cook for 10 minutes before adding the dried figs and the lamb shanks. Cover with a lid or foil and turn the heat to low, allowing the lamb shanks to just simmer.
Cook for 1- 1 1/2 hours making sure to check occasionally that there is enough liquid to cover. After an hour check your lamb shanks. You want them to be tender and to nearly fall off the bone with the nudge of a spoon. When cooked to your desire take them out and cover with foil to stay warm.
Turn the heat to medium and cook your chickpeas uncovered for 15 minutes or until the sauce is reduced and thick.
Add the third tablespoon of seeded mustard and check for seasoning and serve the chickpeas in a bowl with the lamb shanks on top. Spoon over a little more sauce and garnish with roughly chopped parsley.
Serves 2 or 4 with the addition of boiled rice of cous cous.