Lamb Shanks for Everyone!

As mentioned in previous posts, I had a dinner party a while back, and my main meal was lamb shanks. I love lamb shanks – they’re moist and juicy and sticky and if you cook them well, they fall off the bone. The meat doesn’t make me feel sick like pork sometimes does, and whenever you tell anyone that they’re getting lamb shanks for dinner, they tend to get very happy very quickly. Unless they’re vegetarian. In which case I feel a little bit sad that they don’t get to eat beautiful lamb shanks.

As was the case with pretty much everything I bought and did for this dinner – things didn’t go exactly as planned. That seems to happen a lot to me… maybe I should stop planning? I don’t think I could do that… Anyway, I digress. I knew exactly where I wanted to go to get my lamb shanks – a little meat stall at my local ‘slow market’ (basically a farmer’s market with some other stalls thrown in for good measure). I get there and my eyes go straight to the little corner where the lamb shanks usually nestle – but there’s nothing there. Some other random meat is there, but no lamb shanks. (Now bear in mind that my dinner is TONIGHT, and I’m missing the main ingredient of the main dish. ) Slightly panicky, I start scrabbling through other piles of meat in the fridge/freezer. Nothing. Nada. Zippiddy-doo-dah-day. I turn to the lady behind the counter and ask her if they have any lamb shanks left – maybe they’re hiding somewhere else? No, she tells me – they were all sold early this morning. Grrrr… who is this lamb-shank-buying person? How dare they take MY lamb shanks???? Plan B. (That’s why I plan! So that I have plan B’s ready and waiting when I need them!) Go to a different shop – the lamb won’t be quite as delicious, and will be a bit more expensive – but not too much I can do about that now.

So off we go to the second shop – and the lamb-shank-buying-person hadn’t got there before me! Whoo-Hoo! I chose my five lamb shanks, thereby seriously depleting the stock in the shop (but not to worry – the next time  I was in that shop there were plenty there again) and got myself home to start cooking.

Notes about this recipe – I got it off Jamie Oliver’s website – it is an amazing recipe but I did make a few slight changes. I’ve posted the original below, but I’ve put my changes/thoughts in bold in the relevant places. I do suggest you make these next time you feel like something decadent and rich and delightful. Enjoy!


6 sprigs of fresh rosemary
150g cold butter
15 fresh sage leaves
2 sprigs of fresh thyme, leaves picked
sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
4 lamb shanks, preferably free-range or organic, crown- or French-trimmed (I used five shanks as I was feeding five people – I upped all the amounts slightly except for the butter. It makes a lot of herbed butter – so don’t stress if you can’t quite fit it all in!)
12 cloves of garlic, unpeeled (I know it sounds like a lot – but trust me and follow the amounts. Add more if you have the courage – you won’t be sorry!)
2 large carrots, peeled and finely sliced
1 onion, peeled and finely sliced
1 leek, washed, halved and finely sliced (I could only find baby leeks, so I used three of those (half in each parcel))
olive oil (due to aforementioned over-abundance of butter, I didn’t need this. I just used left-over butter as the oil to rub over the shanks)
2 wineglasses of white wine


Preheat your oven to 180ºC/350ºF/gas 4. Pick the leaves off 2 sprigs of rosemary, whiz them with the butter, most of the sage and the thyme in a food processor and season with salt and pepper. Using a small knife, take one of the lamb shanks and cut between the meat and the bone from the base of the shank upwards. You want to create a hole big enough to put your finger in, making a sort of pocket. Do this to all the shanks and divide the flavoured butter between them, pushing it into the pockets. This will give a wonderful flavour to the heart of the shanks.

Tear off four arm-length pieces of tinfoil and fold each in half to give you four A3-sized pieces of foil. Divide the garlic and veg between them, making a pile in the middle of each square. Rub the lamb shanks with olive oil and season with salt and pepper, then put one on top of each pile of veg and a sprig of rosemary and a few sage leaves on top of that. Carefully pull up the sides of the foil around the shank and pour a swig of wine into each. Gather the foil around the bone, pinching it together tightly. Any excess foil can be torn or cut off with scissors. Repeat for all 4 shanks, then place the foil parcels on a baking tray with the bones facing up. Put in the preheated oven for 2½ hours or until the meat is as tender as can be. Serve the parcels in the middle of the table so that your guests can open them up themselves.

Extra Note: I found that there weren’t enough veggies as they all shrink a lot in cooking – so next time I’ll serve it with some creamy mashed potatoes, or maybe a big green salad. Not that anyone complained – it’s just a note I made in my head for next time 🙂 

Again – enjoy!



2 thoughts on “Lamb Shanks for Everyone!

  1. This recipe is my favourite and have done it a couple of times for a special occassion. I find the flavouring of the carrots and leeks just gives everything wonderful richness. I normally serve mine with mash (to soak up all those lovely juices) mixed with cream cheese and roasted veggies. I actually found a recipe the other day and thought wow this would compliment the lamb so nicely. and then serve it with a plain couscous to soak up those juices and a light salad just to break the richness of the entire meal. I am sure your guess ate their lips off!!! ;p

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