This dish has been inspired by both Saint Delia and my colleague Gillian. I was looking for something worthy of celebrating our friend Sunila’s birthday and that I could do as a week day meal without killing myself. It did mean that I had to nip home mid afternoon and turn the oven on but hey, when you can drive to home and back in 15 minutes it’s no great hardship.
I should also explain that this dish and the occasion of eating it with Sunila and Dom is the culmination of a year long campaign by them to get me to eat lamb. It is their very favourite meat and it annoyed them greatly that I refused to share in their pleasure. Because I am such a good wife and friend and let’s face it, a total people pleaser, I have been on a mission to like lamb and have been trying it every so often so that it got to the point, the tipping point, where I decided that it was actually quite delicious. Prior to this, I even went so far as to say it was ‘yucky’ and ‘smelled disgusting’ and that I would ’never, never eat it’. Well, I am now eating my words. And the lamb.
Mediterranean Lamb Shanks with Cannelini Beans
4 lamb shanks
2 large carrots
2 sticks of celery
A handful of thyme
4 sprigs of rosemary
6 anchovy fillets
1 bottle of red wine
1 can of chopped tomatoes
6 strips of pancetta
2 cans of cannelini beans
1tsp corn flour
Put veggies and herbs in the bottom of a large casserole dish (must have a lid, more later).
Preheat the oven to 140 degrees C or the equivalent.
Put the lamb shanks on top, nestling them in together. Drop the pancetta, snipped up over the top and the anchovy fillets. Plop over the tinned tomatoes and the finish by pouring the whole bottle of red wine over. The lamb should be mostly covered with liquid but it’s fine for the shanks to poke out a bit. Liberally grind black pepper over. No need for salt as the ‘chovies do that job for us, and as we all know we need to eat less salt…
Cover the dish with foil tightly and the put the lid on. Put in oven for at least 4 hours, but 6 is better.
About 45 mins before you intend to eat, add the beans and take out a few ladles of stock to reduce to a sauce in a pan. Add some slaked corn flour – about 1 teaspoon of flour in about a tablespoon of water will do the trick – and add to the sauce.
Serve each person with a shank, some of the beans and veggie mix and some of the thickened sauce. We had this with fine green beans which looked great on the plate (as you can see!) and big glasses of red wine.
What was great about this dish is that it was so easy, very little prep and it really just makes itself, using ingredients that practically leap off shelves they are so easy to find. You could skip the sauce making stage and just serve the liquor like a broth around the shank too. The loveliness of the taste is inversely proportionate to the amount of time and effort needed. One of those dishes that you feel slightly guilty for being praised so highly for (or is that just me?) but as a self confessed people pleaser, let’s just say I got my fix!