I wasn’t ready for summer to be over, but whether I like it or not it seems that fall has arrived and made itself well at home. The temperatures have dropped, the leaves are changing colour and I have had to whip out the scarves and jackets. There is a noticeable chill in the air and it sure ain’t summer’s doing! The rainy weather we have experienced recently has me crawling back under the covers and grabbing the remote for some serious Netflix bingeing. In addition to the creature comforts, it also has me craving comfort food; soups, chili, curries and slow-cooked anything! Goodbye fresh summer salads and BBQs on the beach.
Last weekend, the miserable rainy one that it was, provided the perfect setting to batten down the hatches and remain inside, curled up on the couch with a book in hand. Nonetheless, a girl still has to eat! Typically our fridge is pretty empty by the weekend, however, the boyfriend and I, after seeing the forecast for the weekend, planned ahead. We scored ourselves a big chunk of beef to throw on the stove and slow cook for the whole of Saturday. After hours of bubbling away, covered in tomatoes, black beans, chilies and other spices, that bad boy fell apart into wonderful, flavoursome, juicy shreds of meat. It paired beautifully with the cornbread I made for it (a super simple Betty Crocker recipe. Look it up!) and was the perfect drool-worthy addition, stuffed inside tacos, for Sunday night’s dinner. That slow cooked beef was a great reminder of how much I love slow cook food, especially slow cooked meat, especially slow cooked lamb!
If you have been following this blog for a while now, then you are well acquainted with my love of lamb. Discussing favourite foods with my boyfriend last week, I announced with full confidence that lamb is hands down my all time favourite meat. The lack of lamb consumption I have endured since living in Canada has made this even more apparent (such a first world problem for this little Aussie)! With lamb on my mind, I have decided to dedicate this post to the number one meat in my life. And since we’re on the topic of slow cooking, then I can’t turn down the opportunity to share with you my favourite slow cooked lamb shanks recipe.
Lamb shanks may be considered by some to be the off cuts you feed to the dog (my friend’s farmer mum is of this belief. It breaks my heart), but for any person of sound mind, shanks should be considered as some of the tastiest meat you can sink your teeth into! You just have to know how to cook them and that is sloooooowly! A quick pan fry is not going to do the trick here. You will end up with a very chewy and unsatisfying hunk of lamb that IS only worthy of a dog’s meal. The trick is to cover them up with liquids of your choice and put the stove on low and let them gently bubble away for hours on end.
I have tried a few different recipes for lamb shanks. And sometimes I feel like all slow cooked meat can end up tasting the same- meaty and delicious, but never as robust as what I may have been hoping for. However, my favourite lamb shank recipe allows the flavours to shine in addition to the meat itself. It is one that I cut out of some food magazine yonks ago, but after a quick google, I have managed to find it online. It goes by the name of Honey-Mustard Lamb Shanks and you can find it on Recipes Plus’ website (alongside many other scrummy sounding recipes).
The beauty of slow cooking is that it is ridiculously easy and this recipe is no exception to that. I have found that it’s always beneficial to brown the meat first and seal it, before adding the rest of the ingredients. This shank recipe calls for that, once the meat has been coated with a dusting of flour, salt and pepper. You are then required to put the meat aside and fry off onions, carrots and garlic. Feel free to add in some extra veg at this point too. You can never go wrong with some celery in there as well. Once the veg has softened, the recipe calls for the addition of honey, mustard and thyme, which is then deglazed with white wine (yeh I know…you would think red wine with red meat, but trust me, the white wine is the better choice for this recipe). Before you put the lid on you need to top the whole thing up with water to ensure the meat is covered. Or, for a little bit of extra flavour, add half water and half stock, especially if you have homemade boyfriend stock like me!
The size of your shanks will determine the cooking time. I have always been of the opinion, the longer the better. You want to literally see the meat fall off the bone when you lift it from the pot. LITERALLY! This recipe advises 3 hours of cooking, but in my opinion it will more like 5+. A squirt of lemon upon serving will help cut through some of the richness.
Voila! After 5 or so hours you will have some of the best tasting, in my opinion, THE BEST tasting lamb shanks! Honey-mustard is a well known favourite flavour combo and works a treat with the richness of the lamb and the hint of thyme only adds to this mouth-watering dish. I recommend serving the shanks with some kind of mash to absorb all those meaty juices. Potato, sweet potato or polenta- the choice of mash is up to you! A serve of greenery like green beans will also add some freshness to this hearty dish. Serve it up for your carnivorous boyfriend/husband/partner and you’ll have them speaking your praises for days.