My main concern when cooking for a bunch of friends (other than taste) is that I don’t actually have to do much cooking once they’ve arrived. This lamb shank casserole ticks the boxes on that front. You put it in the oven about three hours before you want to eat and don’t have to touch it until then. I made some braised red cabbage to go with it – the last vegetable from the garden from last year’s planting – which also just had to sit and do it’s braising leaving me free to drink wine. The third component was some mashed potato, peeled and ready to boil, all I had to do was mash them, so really it was all pretty stress free.
Here’s the recipe:
8 lamb shanks
2 leeks, chopped
3 carrots, chopped
1 red chilli
2 tsp cumin
2 bay leaves
1 stick cinnamon
500ml goat stock (or a good lamb, beef or chicken stock)
Preheat the oven to 160c. Then start by heating some oil in a large casserole pan and dust the lamb shanks in flour and brown on all sides – you’ll need to do this in batches to avoid over-crowding the pan. Place the shanks on a plate to catch any juices that come out. Pour a glass of water into the pan and scrape the base with a wooden spoon to get all the delicious lamby bits. Pour this into a jug and set aside. Heat a little more oil and add the veg and chilli, cook for about 10 minutes until nicely softened. Add the cumin, sumac, bay and cinnamon, stir around for a couple of minutes. Place the shanks back in the pan, along with any juice, the lamby water and the stock. Cover and place in the oven for 3-3 1/2 hours, until the lamb is meltingly tender.
For the red cabbage: 1 red cabbage (or 3 tiny ones), 500ml red wine, 1 tbsp red wine vinegar, 1 tablespoon sugar, cinnamon stick and a bay leaf. Place it all in a pan, bring up to the boil and let simmer away (partially covered) for 1 – 1 1/2 hours.