Nigel Slater's lamb shanks recipe

Lamb shanks take a long time to cook, but they need minimal preparation. The oven does most of the work.

The recipe

Cut 500g of large carrots and the same of parsnips into rough chunks, then brown them lightly all over in a little olive oil over a moderate heat. Place two small lamb shanks on top of the vegetables, pour over 500ml of stock, tuck in a bunch of thyme, season with salt and pepper then cover the dish with a lid. Bake at 180 C/gas mark 4 for 90 minutes then remove the shanks, herbs and most of the liquid to a warm place. Using a small amount of liquid left in the pan, roughly crush the roots with a potato masher or fork and serve with the shanks and the reserved juices.

The trick

Choose small shanks so that they will cook in an hour and a half. It is not strictly necessary to brown them before adding the stock, but if you do there will be even more flavour in the juices. Use large winter carrots so they don't collapse into the cooking liquor. Keep the mash rough and ready.

The twist

Use a light and fruity red wine instead of stock. Try adding rosemary sprigs or a strip of orange peel to the pan. Remove the root vegetables and beat to a smooth and silky purée with some of the cooking liquor.

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