Lamb shanks with mint, chilli and lemon

A lighter, brighter way with a slow-cooked favourite.

Lamb shanks

Lamb shanks can be hearty fare, and are desirably so in the depths of winter. Here, however, they’re lighter and a bit more sprightly. The braising liquid is paler than you might be used to, being made of white wine and chicken stock, and shallower, too, as steam-roasting does a lot of the work.

Rather than browning the shanks off on the stovetop then softening the onion, I (lazily) give them a quick roast together in a hot oven. Then they’re sealed up with a host of other flavours and given a long, slow cooking until tender enough to fall from the bone.

It’s important that the pan you use is wide enough to accomodate all the shanks in something close to a single layer, and that its lid fits tightly so that the braising liquid doesn’t evaporate away. To ensure a good seal, I sandwich a sheet of baking paper (or foil) between the pan and the lid, which works very nicely.

Lamb shanks with mint, chilli and lemon


Serves 2.

2 tablespoons olive oil
1 teaspoon dried mint
½ teaspoon dried red chilli flakes
1 large onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, finely sliced
2 lamb shanks (or 4, depending on their size or your hunger)
250ml (1 cup) chicken stock
125ml (½ cup) dry white wine
1 cup canned chickpeas
handful (about ½ cup) parsley leaves
zest of 1 lemon

Set your oven to 200°C (400°F).

Measure the olive oil into a wide, ovenproof pan, for which you have a lid. Add the mint, chilli flakes, onion and garlic. Stir together.

Season the shanks lightly and turn them in the pan until nicely coated. Roast for 30 minutes, uncovered, turning halfway through.

Remove the shanks from the oven and reset the temperature to 160°C (325°F) as you do so.

Pour in the chicken stock and wine. Cover the pan with a piece of baking paper (or foil), put the lid on and return to the oven for 2 hours.

Meanwhile, rinse and drain the chickpeas. Chop the parsley and lemon zest together to make a simple gremolata. Set aside.

When their cooking time is up, transfer the shanks to a plate, cover with the baking paper from the pan and a tea towel over that to keep them warm.

On the stovetop, bring the pan juices to boil and reduce for 5 minutes or so until thickened. When it looks like the sauce is starting to thicken, add the chickpeas to warm through.

Serve the shanks on a bed of couscous, if desired, spooning over the chickpea sauce and a generous sprinkling of the parsley-lemon gremolata.

SlowPaul Hayesslow