“Stay out of the kitchen! I’m busy with the lamb shanks.”

Simple lamb shanks (9 of 10)“Five hours. Wow. How come that takes soooo long?” “How do you have the patience for that sort of cooking?” Such are the questions asked of the slow-cooking cook. “You have great patience.” Now, it is probably true that I am more patient than the average schmuck. A couple of decades living in our house has contributed to that state of affairs. However, I am aware that family occasionally read this stuff, so I had better leave that aspect alone. Now back to the point of this tale….

I like people to think that I work really hard at the cooking. They must believe that I stay in the kitchen for the entire cooking process. This may be true if I’m trying to get a soufflé to rise or boiling an egg. But, with these simple lamb shanks, I have hours to dedicate to any other activity I feel is appropriate. Having TV on the iPad is a big help. I can watch a rugby match or two or catch up on a box set while the family are all feeling sorry for me as I prepare another epic creation.

This recipe for Simple Lamb Shanks is really easy and takes very little of the cooking time to prepare, leaving you free to enhance your reputation as a hardcore cook while doing other, less impressive things. The ingredients list is very short. I was cooking for three. Multiply up or down to suit your numbers.

Simple ingredients that will be prepared very simply too.

Simple ingredients that will be prepared very simply too.

Ingredients for Simple Lamb Shanks

  • 3 lamb shanks
  • 3 carrots
  • 2 good sized onions
  • 4 sticks of celery
  • One third of a bottle of nice red wine
  • About the same amount of good chicken stock
  • Salt and pepper to season

First, brown the shanks on a frying pan. Brown them on every surface you can reach.

Don't panic if you can't brown all the bits. It's ot possible to do it all.

Don’t panic if you can’t brown all the bits. It’s not possible to do it all.

Next, chop the vegetables, nice and chunky. We don’t want to waste any of the available time with actual preparation, if we can avoid it.

Don't cut them up too small. It's a waste of time.

Don’t cut them up too small. It’s a waste of time.

Heat some oil in a casserole and add the vegetables. when they begin to soften, add the lamb shanks and season them. Season them well. Then add the wine.

No need to overdo the wine. Keep enough to drink while you're waiting.

No need to overdo the wine. Keep enough to drink while you’re waiting.

Side note on keeping the family onside: Be sure to make a deal of noise and indulge in some cursing and ranting at regular intervals during your downtime. This will dampen any enthusiasm they have for coming into the kitchen. Using the ad breaks in a film or half time during the rugby works well for me. 

Add the stock.

That's really good, thick stock. Lots of flavour!

That’s really good, thick stock. Lots of flavour!

Pop on the lid and place the casserole in a 140ºC oven.

Place the lid on quietly. Don't alert them to it going in the oven.

Place the lid on quietly. Don’t alert them to it going in the oven.

After four and a half hours of TV watching and occasional outbursts, you can take the shanks out and keep them warm in the oven. Strain the remaining liquid into a saucepan. Reduce it by two-thirds. Add a knob of butter and whisk to incorporate. This will make a delicious, tasty gravy.

Hide the iPad and serve the shanks on a bed of mash. It works really well with garlic mash, celeriac mash or just plain old potato mash.

They will believe that it's hard work. This is delicious.

They will believe that it’s hard work. This is delicious.

One last thing to remember. It’s a good idea to ask if anybody knows the score from the match you secretly watched. That way, they’ll never be on to you. They may even feel a bit sorry for you. If they do, your rep as a cook will be enhanced in proportion. Score!

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  • That look delicious. After the initial hard work these kind of dishes practically cook themselves – you could go out and watch the rugby while the oven gets impatient for you 😉

    • The trick is to let them all think I am stuck in the kitchen doing something magical….

  • The idea of you sitting and ‘fake rattling those pots and pans’ whilst actually watching the footy on the telly is chuckleworthy. Damn my open plan kitchen and living room. (Shanks, mash and sauce look mouthwatering, worth all that hard work.)

    • Thanks Lisa,
      Don’t tell the Wife. She will not be impressed!

  • Love a slow-cooked lamb shank. I used to be able to get venison shanks cheap when I lived in London but sadly the reverse is true here in t’country. Watching rugby is a good one as any groans and cheers can be attributed to the cooking. Wouldn’t work so well if you were chuckling over Laurel and Hardy, maybe.

    • No, we need to keep the entertainment in the right arena. If we started laughing in the kitchen, nobody would be fooled for a minute. It NEVER happens! Venison shanks would be good. Never seen them here. Though my butcher friend is encouraging me to cook some more pork knuckles, suggesting sous vide. Interesting thought….

  • There are onions in your first picture, but not in the ingredients list…? And, what do you do with the celery, carrot (and onion?) pieces? Do you serve them with the meal, save them for soup or …? I need to add more of this sort of minimal prep, maximum flavour dish to my repertoire so I can get OUT of the kitchen.

    • Guilty as charged. I neglected to include them in the list. I have redressed that now. By the time the dish has prepared itself, the veg are a pretty unattractive colour. So, I strained the liquid off and reduced it to make the gravy. Sadly, this time, the veg got to be part of a landfill. Thanks for spotting my blunder. I do appreciate you telling me.

  • Shameless…. Why didn’t I think of that?
    On the other hand, I have have Lisa’s problem too; you cannot close the door in my kitchen, so my industry or lack of it is totally obvious. I do love a nice meaty, tender lamb shank, and these look just the ticket.

    • Thanks Kate. You should get a door put in. It allows for all sorts of slacking. Though, your cake, quilt, cake quotient would suffer…..

      • True… there’s always a payoff. On reflection, I’ll stick with the status quo, and for advertising what’s on the menu several hours in advance by smell!

  • Lovely, Conor. Always a favourite in our house. Unfortunately they’re so dammed expensive now in south east England.
    This time of year though those slow cooked dishes are just wonderful. I do mine in the slow cooker whilst we’re at work so I don’t get all the praise you receive.

    • The slow cooker is a curse for the modern man. Though it is probably a great invention…

  • Love it Conor! The idea of you rattling pans to discourage any visitors to the kitchen is hilarious. There are only the two of us in my house but I still take refuge in the kitchen for some peace 🙂
    The lamb shanks look delicious. I’m nervous of long cooking times as I only discovered the first time I made Christmas cakes that my oven automatically shuts down after 4.5 hours! No overnight anything for me. Although, at least I’d have an excuse to stay hiding in the kitchen!

    • You could get into one of those Netflix series and sit by the oven with your iPad overnight. Either that or take up an interest in boxing and subscribe to Setanta pay per view. That stuff all seems to be on at 3 in the morning.

      • An interest in boxing isn’t likely to happen 🙂 Maybe NFL and stay up all Sunday night?

  • Since I live alone, no one to fool! I use the crock pot and come back home in five hours….

    BTW, lamb shanks are WONDERFUL — I would add some onion, just personally.

    • There is a couple of onions in there for the cooking. They got chucked along with the other veg when they had given up their goodness to the gravy.

  • Beautiful dish! Any you still had 2/3 a bottle of wine you had all to yourself!

    • Yes Julie,
      Though that could be dangerous….

  • Wow. I love slow cooked meat. You just put it into the oven, leave it and it`s done and delicious!

  • Lamb shanks are in my favorite food group. I have an open kitchen, no hiding or having fun by myself.

    • Put up a screen. If you are doing the work in that warm climate, you deserve the down time.
      Thanks for visiting and for the nice words,

  • Yeah!

  • Gorgeous! We served these at the Hotel this summer, a huge seller and my dog got accustomed to me tossing him a nice lamb bone upon my arrival home. You must be tired of hearing me saying this, but here goes– I wonder how this would work with a leg of goat? Maybe too lean? Ok then, I may have to cave and buy some nice lamb shanks from the butcher next trip to the mainland. Cheers!

  • Looks great, Conor. The gratuitous sauce pouring shot is starting to become a trademark. Did you change your mind on the amount of celery stalks after taking the pouring shot?
    As you mentioned, you should prepare lamb shank sous-vide. 62 degrees for 48 hours is the way to go. It is my favorite cut of lamb to cook sous-vide. Both texture and flavor are amazing. Although I am not sure you’d enjoy watching rugby on your iPad for 48 hours…

    • *ingredient shot

    • Thanks Stefan. I now need to review my photos and instructions on the celery front. I will give the sous vide shanks a whirl in the near future. I need to stay off meat for a few days after that outrageous Amsterdam weekend. So it won’t be until I have spent at least 48 hours watching rugby!
      Best to both of you from both The Wife and me,

  • Fall is my season for lamb shanks. No matter the weather outdoors, there’s a wonderful aroma wafting through my home. My guests arrive about the time I pull the shanks out of the oven. Slave all day in the kitchen? If you call a nice nap “slaving”, then yes.

    • I like your style John. That is a pretty good approach.

  • Plus, at the end, you get to feel like Fred Flintstone eating them.

    • That is a major plus. In my book anyway…

  • I have an “open” kitchen plan with a granite-topped island for full view of the large screen TV in the great room, all on purpose so that I am not tucked away and missing our version of football! We actually tore down the wall between the kitchen and living room just for that. However, as people are glued to the TV in the far corner, I can rattle pots and pans just as much as you can, lol.

    • As long as they ‘know’ you are busy, everything is good.

  • “Five hours. Wow. How come that takes soooo long?” “How do you have the patience for that sort of cooking?”

    I will never ever understand these questions – they always come from idiots that stand in the kitchen watching the friggin’ oven for 5 hours!!! Get out! Walk the beach, go swim, fly a kite, drive to Bray, climb a mountain! Fall in love, go to the pub!! This is cooking that requires NO looking after, it is the worlds most straight forward application of heat to meat!!!! ArrrrgggjhghhhhhhhH!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    Lovely dam dish as usualy C-Bomb!! I just fancied a vent :0)

  • You are the devil I swear!

  • Your evil genius knows no bounds, Conor. I am very impressed. Also, thanks for the tip on browning strange-shaped meat. I feel the same when I’m on a sun holiday, and your advice is very reassuring.

  • I love the side note! I also use the ipad to have my shows on while I cook. It doesn’t take up too much space and it passes the time nicely. As usual, a fabulous recipe. 🙂

    • Thanks Virginia. You are very kind to me.

  • Haha, I so completely identify with your sentiments! Slow-cooking is a wonderful way of producing something epic and flavourful, and while it’s cooking you can accomplish all sorts of things (gardening, vacuuming, rugby match dedication, etc.). It’s not slaving away at all! But let’s not shatter that illusion for our family and guests… 😉

  • I haven’t eaten lamb shanks in a long time ….but all my memories of it are very good….odd that the French should have christened the lamb shank as a mouse:)

  • One of the easiest meals to prepare but tastes like you worked so hard on it. I sometimes serve mine with polenta.

    • Yes. I have done that too Karen. Also with a bean stew can be delicious. I blogged it once. I hope all is good with you.

      • Very good Conor, thanks for asking.

  • Well, well, well – the dream of a Welsh man. Fantastic. And I am going to reply to your FB message!

  • Damn good looking shanks Conor, and sound advice on hiding the movie watching behind a day slaving away in the kitchen 👍😜

    • It keeps up the pretence that we men are in control.

      • Not in this country. Still, a man’s gotta have dreams 😜

        • I realise it’s self delusion. But, I have to try….

          • This is starting to remind me of when I told my little brother the Easter bunny isn’t teal…

  • Looks and sounds delicious! I think I’ll give it a go with some pork shanks. An immersion blender would work great on the veg in the sauce I’m thinking. Thanks for another great idea Conor!

    • That is a great thought Tony. An immersion blender is now on my Christmas list.

  • Looks delicious! I love lamb shanks, and your ruse to stay in the kitchen all day is brilliant! Why have I been using a pressure cooker all this time?!?

    • Do it my way. That takes the pressure off in every sense.

  • 30 minutes into the cook. Checking out the blog this morning was the best thing I’ll do this weekend! Cooking for one, so the leftovers will be the most exciting part of the F1 tomorrow!

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