Roasted lamb shanks with mash: the antidote to cold windy days

Shank, I have just discovered, is another name for shin and for some reason, at least in the UK, it is a term that is only used for lamb and no other meat. A few years ago this lost bit of the leg was barely available but these days you can’t move for shanks on menus and in recipes. But I’m not complaining: they’re cheap (well, relatively), tasty and need very little (bar time, for marinading and roasting) to turn them into a wonderful warming dinner for blustery days. If you have friends coming round this is a very forgiving cut too: shove it in the oven and it will happily roast without complaint or intervention for a couple of hours. I have made these both in a roasting tin and in a lidded casserole dish and my vote is for the latter since it leaves you with more sauce. Serve with some buttery mash (potato, or potato and parsnip go well) and a cold night. Summer, who needs summer?

Roasted lamb shanks (adapted from Appetite)

For two you will need:

Cupboard (or things you may already have):
olive oil, about a tablespoon
sea salt and freshly ground pepper, plus 5 or 6 whole black peppercorns
flour, about a tablespoon
garlic, 1 whole head
onions, 2
bay leaf

Shopping list
lamb shanks, 2
red wine, about ½ bottle of something richly flavoured (e.g. a claret or a Rioja, not a Beaujolais)
sherry vinegar, a tablespoon
fresh thyme, 2 sprigs

How to
1. First, marinade the lamb for an hour or so (it will benefit from longer but an hour, with a turn, works too). Put the wine, sherry vinegar, thyme, bay and whole black peppercorns in a large bowl or pan, cut the garlic head in half and add that then add the lamb. Leave it for as long as you can, turning it every so often if the meat isn’t completely covered by the liquid to get an even colour all over.
2. When you are ready to cook, turn the oven to 200°C/180°C fan-assisted/gas 6 and put a little olive oil in the bottom of a large lidded casserole.
3. Remove the meat from the marinade (but keep the liquid) and cover each shank with a light dusting of flour.
4. Put the lidded casserole over a medium heat and let the oil warm up for a minute or two. Then add the lamb and brown the shanks all over.
5. Whilst the lamb is browning, peel the onions and chop them into large pieces.
6. Once browned, remove the meat from the pan and add the onions. Cook them for about ten minutes until softened and sticky.
7. Once the onions are cooked, tip the marinade into the pan (including all the herbs), add the lamb, cover and roast in the oven for an hour to an hour and a half. The meat will shrink but its juices will have mixed with the marinade and onions to make a thick, yummy sauce. Season to taste and serve with mash.

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