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10 Nov 2016 Savoury

Lamb shank, prune and red wine casserole

This is a pretty easy but very impressive looking and tasty dinner party dish to woo your guests. It will have the house filled with wonderful and warming wintery aromas. A top tip is that the fore lamb shanks are a little smaller and therefore cheaper than the meatier hind shanks, so ask for those at your butchers if liked. To get ahead, this can be made up to 2 days in advance.

Serves 4

Preheat the oven to 170C (325F / Gas Mark 3). Heat a large oven-proof casserole pan or saucepan (that has a tight fitting lid to match) on a high heat. Dust the lamb shanks evenly with the flour and season well. Drizzle half the oil into the casserole and sear the lamb shanks all over for a few minutes until golden (you may have to work in two batches). Remove and leave aside.

Next, reduce the heat, wipe out the pan with kitchen towel and add the remaining oil. Gently fry the onion, carrot, celery and garlic for 8-10 minutes until beginning to soften. Add the thyme, bay leaf, cinnamon stick, juniper berries, prunes, tomato puree and season well. Return the lamb shanks to the casserole and pour the wine and stock over. Bring slowly to the boil and cover with the lid.

Bake in the oven for about 2 hours until the meat is falling from the bone and the sauce is rich and thickened. If you want to thicken the sauce a little more, remove the lamb shanks (and keep warm) and place the casserole on a high heat, allowing the sauce to bubble down for about 15 minutes until reduced enough (with lid off of course). Check seasoning at this point also.

Spoon some creamy mash onto each serving plate and sit a lamb shank on top of each. Spoon a little of the sauce over and serve with green beans.

Photo (c) Joanne Murphy

You will need...

4 Lamb shanks (about 400g each)
2 tbsp plain flour
3 tbsp sunflower oil
1 medium onion, finely diced
2 carrots, finely diced
2 sticks celery, finely diced
2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
leaves from 2 sprigs thyme
2 bay leaves
1 cinnamon stick, broken
1 tsp juniper berries (optional)
250g pitted ready to eat prunes, halved
2 tbsp tomato puree
1 bottle dry red wine
300ml rich beef stock
creamy mash & green beans, to serve
Salt and freshly ground black pepper

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