I’m not sure if you saw my recent instagram post about this Irish Lamb Shank dish but it was one of those recipes that evolved from what I had originally planned. It was a cold day and I went to the supermarket with a bit of an idea that I would be making a stew of some description, as a cold day really screams out for something hearty and comforting.

I walked past our local butcher, Craig Cook, The Natural Butcher, and they had the most incredible lamb shanks in the display cabinet. I want to stress that this is not a paid post (none of mine are……yet) but I would like to say that they have the most beautiful meat. Grass fed, from Craig Cooks own farms and it is superb quality meat. The butchering is top notch as most of the fat is trimmed and the meat looks plump, pink and fresh. They have a paddock to plate philosophy which is something that I try to adhere to where possible and I really believe that your meal will be elevated using quality ingredients. Our budgets don’t always allow this but with shanks of this size I could have easily fed 4 people on two shanks (with a fight to the death for the bone) and although I am fairly good on the fang, this shank totally defeated me. I ate about half and had the leftovers the next day with a warning to my kids and Husband that if anyone ate my shank, there would be hell to pay.

Getting back to the recipe, once I had the shanks in place I just knew the meat had to be the star of the show. An Irish Lamb Shank stew version was perfect as it has limited ingredients, is cooked low and slow and really allows the flavour of the lamb to penetrate the rich, Guinness infused gravy that is laden with earthy vegetables, garlic and herbs. I served this on a bed of creamy mash, kale and spring onion and we all lived extremely happily ever after. The End.

Prep time: 30 Minutes

Cooking time: 3 Hours

$$ Medium Budget

Serves 4

4 lamb shanks

100gm of speck, cut into lardons (batons)

1 large brown onion, halved and sliced top to bottom

4 garlic cloves, finely minced

16 thyme sprigs, leaves removed and stalks discarded or tied in a bundle with string and removed later

2 tbs of plain flour

1 cup of beef stock

1 can of Guinness

1 tbs of balsamic vinegar (not traditional but a game changer)

1 large carrot, peeled and cut into chunks

1 turnip, peeled and cut into chunks

Sea salt and cracked pepper

Thyme leaves for garnish

For the Kalecannon:

4 medium to large, good mashing potatoes (Dutch Cream or Sebago), peeled and cut into chunks

1 bag of chopped kale or about half a bunch

1 spring onion, finely sliced

40gm of butter

1/2 a cup of milk

Sea salt and pepper

Preheat the oven to 160°C.

To prepare the Irish Lamb Shanks, lay the shanks on a board and season generously with salt and pepper on all sides. Heat a large oven proof casserole and add a little oil. Brown the shanks, in batches if needed on all sides until really golden and caramelised. The browner they are, the more flavour you will have.

Set the shanks aside and in the same pan, add more oil if needed and fry the speck portions until golden. Add the onion, garlic and thyme and fry until the onion is starting to soften and then sprinkle over the flour. Allow the flour to absorb the fat and oil from the pan and cook for a minute or so before pouring in the stock and Guinness. Season with a little more salt and pepper and add the balsamic vinegar and stir until well combined, scraping the base of the pan, until the gravy is starting to thicken. Once it has thickened, place the shanks back in the casserole and spoon the sauce over the shanks so they are relatively submerged in the gravy. Tear off a sheet of baking paper and tuck in the sides, nice and snug. Pop a lid on or wrap tightly in foil and bake in the oven for two hours, checking at the 1 hour mark and basting and turning the shanks to ensure an even cook.

At the 2 hour mark, add the carrot and turnip to the casserole and give it a stir to make sure the veggies are submerged in the gravy. Pop the baking paper and lid back on and bake the Irish Lamb Shanks for a further hour or until the meat is falling off the bone

Bring the potatoes to the boil in a large pot for about 20 minutes or until tender when pierced with a knife. Place the kale in a large bowl and cover with boiling water for a few minutes or until the kale is tender and bright green. Drain and squeeze out any excess water. If it is quite chunky, chop it up a bit with a knife. Drain the water out of the potatoes and place the pot over a low heat. Mash the potatoes until smooth and then add the butter, milk, spring onion and kale to the saucepan, season generously with salt and pepper and whip with a wooden spoon over the heat until creamy.

To plate the Irish Lamb Shanks, place a generous dollop of Kalecannon in the centre of each large, shallow bowl or plate. Top with a lamb shank and spoon over the sauce and vegetables. Garnish with fresh thyme leaves and serve.

If you have leftover gravy from the stew it is suitable to freeze. I often do this with excess sauce and then blitz it up and add to other stews later. It creates an amazing flavour base and minimises waste.

Leftover Speck? You may like to cook this….