Slow-roasted lamb shanks
Slow-roasted comfort food
Gone are the days where stewing meat was considered the cut of ‘lesser-value’ or the ‘not-so-lekker’ meat to prepare. Yes, it does take a bit of planning and more cooking time, but slow-cooked food has made a comeback and is here to stay (on our plates).
The concentrated flavour of the ingredients and tender meat resulting from a long, slow cooking process is absolutely worth it. Cuts of meat like thick rib, shanks, neck and shoulder or even leg, is typically prepared by pot-roasting, stewing or slow-cooking on the stove or in the oven. The tougher cuts are sometimes slightly cheaper, making them very popular, especially in winter when comfort food is something we all enjoy. These cuts often contain more collagen which requires a long, slow cooking process with liquid, to ensure a ‘fall-off-the-bone’ tenderness that only slow-cooking can provide. The other important factor is that the ingredients should just simmer together gently and not boil too rapidly, as this could make the meat tough and dry. Although the cooking time is long, the preparation is often rather effortless once in the oven.
For this lamb shank recipe, a tomato base is used with mustard, fresh herbs and lemon – always a delicious combination. The tomato and red wine give a deep, rich flavour, but if you prefer not to cook with the wine and muscadel, substitute the wine with strong Rooibos tea and add 80 ml honey. To reduce the cooking time a bit, slices of shank (also called knuckle) can be used and any other stewing meat will be ideal in this recipe. If the meat is shredded from the bones, it could even be turned into a pie with a crust of your choice. And remember, if you do plan to slow-roast meat, do so the day before, as the flavours improve even more after a day of standing, just keep it refrigerated and reheat gently to not overcook the meat.
This recipe is from my recipe book Make five and I have shared it in the Muse magazine before, a community magazine based in Cape Town, where I regularly contribute a recipe.
Serves 4 – 6
250 ml (1 cup) red wine
125 ml (½ cup) red muscadel
1 x 410 g tin chopped tomatoes
1 x 410 g tin cherry tomatoes or more chopped tomatoes
15 ml (1 tbsp) tomato paste
45 ml (3 tbsp) olive or avocado oil
20 ml (4 tsp) wholegrain mustard
few sprigs fresh rosemary
6 cloves of garlic, peeled
2 onions, cut into wedges
2 celery stalks, thickly sliced
4 carrots, peeled and thickly sliced
4-6 lamb shanks, whole or sliced and excess fat removed
salt and pepper
2. Place the strips of lemon rind, rosemary, garlic and veggies in a large oven dish. Place the shanks in between and pour over the sauce. Season to taste. Mix to coat the ingredients with the sauce.
3. Cover with foil and roast for 2½ hours. Stir through once or twice.
4. Remove the foil and roast for another 30-45 minutes or until the meat and veggies are soft. Serve with polenta or mashed potatoes to soak up the sauce. Add a large green salad or steamed green veggies like beans or broccoli for a lovely winter meal.
2. Prepare a pie, by shredding the shank meat and mixing it with the sauce and vegetables. Cover with puff or shortcrust pastry and bake until the pastry is cooked and golden brown.