Comfort food 12: Lamb Shanks

26 07 2008

One of the delights of the depths of winter is the yummy stews and casseroles you can make. It’s many years since I made lamb shanks but I gave them a go the other night. Unfortunately, they didn’t taste anywhere near as good as they looked—I don’t use salt in my cooking, but I do use some chili mixes and suspect there may quite a bit of salt in them as I didn’t use them this time and these lamb shanks tasted very bland. They were definitely missing salt.

The ‘recipe’ was one of those ‘bit of this, bit of that’ ones—look at what’s in the fridge and just toss it in! I’ll try and formalise it…


  • 2 lamb shanks
  • Lots of veges, all chopped coarsely into chunks. From memory I put in a couple of onions, some carrots, pumpkin, sweet potato, half a zucchini, a few mushrooms, some celery stalks,  maybe a potato or two… whatever you think goes together, really.
  • 1 or 2 cans tomatoes
  • half a long red chili (to taste—if you don’t like chili, don’t add it); I think I also added a slurp of chili sauce too
  • a couple of sprigs of rosemary
  • salt and pepper to taste


I used a heavy cast iron pot with lid on top of the stove, but you could do this in the oven too, or in a slow cooker.

  1. Brown the onions, chili, and mushrooms in a small quirt of oil.
  2. Add the lamb shanks and brown them lightly.
  3. Add the rest of the veges, including the tomatoes and the rosemary.
  4. Add some water if you think it’s necessary. But don’t add too much otherwise you’ll have a soup.
  5. Throw in the rosemary and a pinch of salt and pepper.
  6. Turn down the heat and leave to simmer for a couple of hours, stirring occasionally if it’s on the stove top. Add water as required if it seems to be cooking too fast and drying out. (If using an oven, this is the step where you put the dish into the oven!)
  7. When the lamb shanks are nearly falling off the bone, they’re cooked!
  8. Serve with something to absorb the lovely tomato-ey juices/gravy, such as rice, couscous, or mashed potato, and some green veges for color. You might want to have some crusty bread on hand too, to mop up those juices!

Here are the lamb shanks nearly ready for serving—look at all those lovely veges in the sauce:

And here’s one meal—one lamb shank is MORE than enough!