Tuesday, 5 March 2013

A late Valentine's treat: Lamb shanks and next-day risotto

I was at the theatre on Valentine's Day. Unfortunately, it wasn't in the West End as a romantic treat with the other half, but at my local amateur theatre, stage managing a youth theatre performance. I thoroughly enjoyed it mind you, and it gave me a fab excuse to celebrate Valentine's Day another time.

Therefore, a week or so later I found myself salivating at the fresh meat counter in Sainsburys and picking up some massive lamb shanks. I don't think I've ever cooked lamb shanks before, or at least not for a long time, so I thought I'd better give the brother a call. He's a bit of a cheffy chap himself and is rather good at French-style meaty cooking. He told me how he'd cook it, which is exactly what I did. Thank you, Brother.

They tasted incredible, (even if our Valentine's meal kind of turned into a meal with friends - I'm not very good at just cooking for two...) and there's a recipe for you below. Unfortunately our bank balance looked like it had just suffered from an earthquake, so I decided to try to make something out of the juice I cooked the lamb in the next day. Say hello to the new saviour of risotto - an amazing stock. I know everyone always says the taste of a risotto is in a good stock, but now I've actually tried it... the taste of a risotto is definitely in a good stock. I would recommend this to anyone looking for a cheap meal - it's that tasty, you don't need to buy any extra meat, even for the most dedicated carnivore...

Lamb stock risotto with broccoli and mushrooms - it's all in the juice
(and the organic broccoli from the veg box - yum)

Pot-roasted lamb shanks with duck fat roasted potatoes, greens, buttered carrots and gravy

The fairly simple greens and sweet carrots really compliment the richness of the lamb, potatoes and gravy. Well, George thought so, anyway.

1. In a big casserole pot, sweat down a large roughly chopped onion and a leek with a couple of chunky-chopped carrots, some cumin and a few whole peeled cloves of garlic. Add the lamb and brown on both sides before adding a glass of white wine.

2. Let the wine boil down for a couple of minutes then add enough water to just about cover the lamb.

3. Cover, bring to boil, and then simmer on a low heat for 4 hours.

4. In the meantime, prepare some potatoes for roasting by par-boiling for five minutes. Warm duck fat in a roasting pan and throw in the potatoes with some fresh rosemary and plenty of sea salt. They will need an hour in the oven on a high heat if you've got an electric oven like mine - but if you have something that goes really hot, they'll need less time.

5. After 4 hours, take the lamb shanks out of the stock, cover with foil and put in the bottom of the oven to crisp up for about half an hour. Take the foil off for the last 10 minutes.

6. Take the bay leaf out of the stock and whizz it up in a food processor (alternatively strain the stock through a fine sieve). Make a gravy by heating a big chunk of butter in a pan, cooking in two tablespoons of flour, and then mixing in the stock gradually. It will thicken but you need a good 15 minutes of cooking. Oh, and you'll only need to use about a third of the stock - loads left for tomorrow's risotto!

7. Steam some carrots before tossing in butter - should take around 20-25 minutes.

8. Prepare some greens - I used leeks, broccoli, savoy cabbage and spinach - and pan fry. This should take around 15 minutes if you're using broccoli, with the broccoli and leeks going in first, the cabbage with 7 minutes to go and the spinach at the last minute.

The whole spread. For four people and a giraffe, I hasten to add...

Lamb and potato heaven


  1. That reminds me of Boxing Day ... that was yummy, too.

    1. Ah yes - I must do a lentil dish on here soon!