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Slow cooked lamb shanks with chick peas

It’s a month till Christmas. Hang on a sec: EEEEEEKKKKKK! Last night I completed my online shopping for the kids and nephews. Sorry if that’s annoying but I can’t stand to be rushed. We’re going away with family to the Brecon Beacons for the Christmas week, so I didn’t go too mad as we’d struggle to stuff the car – also we already have too much STUFF, so I’ve tried to be practical and a bit more restrained this year. We’re not in the farm house yet, hoping to be in for February, so it made sense to go away. The kids are going to be totes bananas with excitement to wake up on Christmas Day with their cousins.
We’ve started planning (only conversationally) who will be in charge of what, cooking and eating wise, not just for the Big Day itself, but for the whole week. I think, when cooking for a lot of people like that, it’s a good idea to plan a few slow cooked dishes, ones you can shove in the oven for a few hours and then return home from a wintery walk to gorgeous smells wafting around – and by some process of alchemy, a glorious feast has been created. This is one of those.

It is one of the netmums recipes that I have recreated (I am providing new photos for some of their most popular recipes). I don’t feature all of the ones I do for them, just the ones I really, truly love. This was superb, so it’s here. I did do my own version of their recipe, which I can’t help doing. For me, I wanted to have more meat, and also more sauce. Plus I added some sweetness with a little balsamic and some earthiness with fresh rosemary. My kids devoured it. It’s such a heartwarming, wintery dish and so deep in flavour.

Yes, it takes three hours to cook, but only ten minutes to prep. If you want to not even bother with reducing the sauce on the hob top, then simply halve the amount of water and do the whole thing in the oven. You could even make this is the slow cooker, just do everything up to the bring to boil stage and then transfer. I would halve the water in this case too.

Serve with mash or, like we did, just as it is.

Serves: 2 adults 2 kids (with leftovers)

Prep time: 10 minutes
Cook time: 3 hours
Total time: 3 hours 10 minutes

3 lamb shanks
250ml red wine
6 small onions or shallots, peeled and left whole
1 whole head of garlic, cloves peeled or unpeeled and left whole (I left unpeeled as I like that rustic thing)
1 tablespoon of Lea & Perrins
1 tablespoon of balsamic vinegar
1 tin of plum tomatoes
1 pint of water
2 bay leaves
1 tin of chick peas
1 tablespoon of chopped fresh rosemary

  1.  Preheat oven to 150C.
  2. Heat oil in a heavy bottom pan till hot and add the shanks to brown, leaving them for a few minutes on each side to get lots of really deep colour. Once browned set aside.
  3. Add the peeled, whole onions and the garlic cloves.
  4. Return the meat to the pan with the red wine, water and tinned tomatoes, along with the L&P sauce plus the balsamic. Let it come to the boil then clamp the lid on and put it in the oven for 2 hours.
  5. After 2 hours, take out the oven, remove the lamb shanks and add the chick peas. Lid off, reduce on the hob over a high heat until the sauce is as thick as you like it. Do this for about an hour (once the sauce is as you like it, add the meat back in and let it simmer gently).
  6. Season and serve either as it is or with mashed potatoes.  

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