Braised lamb shanks with shallots, white wine, olives & lemon served with a parsley and lemon gremolata

The Taste Of Easter

19th March 2010

Spring has most definitely sprung… and with Easter just around the corner, now is the time to turn our attention towards plans for the four-day weekend. Winter is at last becoming a distant memory, so the promise of light, bright days means that this is the perfect opportunity to get the whole family together for a delicious mouth-watering lunch, embracing the best of the season’s offerings. Spring lamb is ideal, almost obligatory at this time of year – and we’ve a great selection of recipes: from traditional English to Mediterranean and Tunisian.

Braised lamb shanks with shallots, white wine, olives & lemon served with a parsley and lemon gremolata

pictured above

Shallots are the ideal accompaniment for spring lamb this Easter with their mild, sweet flavour providing the perfect balance and transforming savoury dishes into something really special. If a classic Easter feast is what you have in mind look no further than this delicious recipe, brand new for 2010. Created by TV chef Rachel Green, it’s ideal for the new season with a light, fresh, zesty flavour, and a distinct hint of the Mediterranean.

Serves 4

2 tbsp rapeseed oil • 4 lamb shanks • 16 shallots, peeled • 4 cloves of garlic, peeled and finely chopped • 2 bay leaves • 4 sprigs fresh thyme • 2 sprigs fresh rosemary • 200ml of good quality white wine • 500ml chicken stock • juice & zest of 2 lemons • 75g of pitted green olives • a handful of freshly chopped parsley • sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

Parsley and lemon gremolata:
3 cloves of garlic peeled and finely chopped • 2 tbsp rapeseed oil • the juice & zest of 1 large lemon • 4 tbsp fresh flat leaf parsley finely chopped • sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

Preheat oven to 140°C, Gas Mark 1, 275°F. Heat the rapeseed oil in a large ovenproof casserole dish on the hob over a medium heat. Season the lamb shanks and brown all over in the hot oil for approximately 8 minutes. Remove the lamb from the dish and set aside, then add the shallots and cook for a further 8 minutes until golden brown. Reduce the heat, add the garlic, bay leaves, thyme and rosemary and return the lamb to the casserole dish. Then pour over the white wine, stock, lemon zest and juice, season well, bring to simmering point and cover with a tight fitting lid. Transfer to the oven and bake for 2.5–3 hours.

Meanwhile make the gremolata: mix all the ingredients together, season with sea salt and black pepper and set aside. When the lamb shanks are cooked remove them and the shallots from the sauce and place in a serving dish to keep warm. Skim off the fat from the surface of the sauce and discard. Strain the sauce and return to the casserole dish. Bring the sauce to the boil, simmer for 5 minutes, then add the olives, adjust the seasoning and add one spoonful of the gremolata to the sauce.

Finally pour the sauce over the lamb shanks and shallots, and serve with remaining the gremolata, sprinkled flat parsley and sauté potatoes.

Herb Crusted Rack Of Lamb With Pea, Mint And Shallot Sauce

Serves 4

2 tbsp olive oil • 4 x 3 cutlet mini French trimmed racks of lamb • 100g fine fresh breadcrumbs • 1 tbsp chopped parsley • 1 tbsp freshly chopped basil • 1dsp freshly chopped rosemary • Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper • 4 heaped tsp good quality Dijon mustard (1 per rack) • 50g melted butter • 2 tbsp olive oil

Sauce:
50g butter • 100g shallots, peeled and diced • 350g frozen peas • 100ml good vegetable stock • 2 tbsp freshly chopped mint • 1 good tablespoon double cream

Place one tablespoon of olive oil in a frying pan and heat. Seal the racks of lamb on all sides. Remove from the heat and place in a roasting tray.

Mix the breadcrumbs and chopped herbs together with a little sea salt and black pepper. Spread each rack with 1 tsp of mustard and press plenty of the breadcrumb mix onto each rack. Melt the butter and the remaining olive oil and drizzle over the herb crusted meat. Place in a pre-heated oven, 180ºC/Gas mark 5, for 12 - 15 minutes. Turn the heat down to 160ºC/ Gas mark 3 and cook for further 5 – 6 minutes. Allow to rest for approximately 5 minutes and serve with the pea puree.

For the sauce, melt the butter in a frying pan and add the shallots. Fry for 2 minutes. Remove from the heat then add the frozen peas and coat in the butter and shallot mixture. Add the vegetable stock. Bring to the boil and simmer for 3 minutes, remove from the heat and add the freshly chopped mint and the double cream. Place into a bowl and blend until chunky. Return to the pan and boil rapidly for a further minute reducing any excess liquid.

To serve, arrange a bed of sauce on four plates and top with the racks of lamb.

Tunisian Braised Lamb Shanks With Shallots, Mint And Harissa Sauce

4 lamb shanks • 16 shallots, peeled and left whole • 2 cloves garlic peeled and crushed • Olive oil for frying • 2 tins plum tomatoes • 1 tbsp harissa paste (depending on the strength – please look at jar for recommended amount) • small bunch of coriander roughly chopped • Good handful mint roughly chopped • 2 tsp cumin seeds • 2 tsp paprika • 2 tsp allspice • 550ml good chicken stock • Sea salt and black pepper

4 lamb shanks • 16 shallots, peeled and left whole • 2 cloves garlic peeled and crushed • Olive oil for frying • 2 tins plum tomatoes • 1 tbsp harissa paste (depending on the strength – please look at jar for recommended amount) • small bunch of coriander roughly chopped • Good handful mint roughly chopped • 2 tsp cumin seeds • 2 tsp paprika • 2 tsp allspice • 550ml good chicken stock • Sea salt and black pepper

In a large ovenproof pan or casserole, heat a little olive oil, season the shanks and seal the meat until brown all over. Remove from the pan, then add the shallots. Cook until the shallots are browned (2-3 minutes), then reduce the heat, add the harissa paste, cumin, paprika, allspice and garlic, fry for 30 seconds with the shallots, then add the tomatoes, coriander, mint and chicken stock. Bring to the boil, add the lamb shanks, then cover the pan or casserole and braise for 2 hours in the oven at 150ºC until the lamb is soft and tender. Remove the lamb shanks and shallots and keep them warm.

Bring the cooking liquor to the boil and reduce until it has the consistency of a good thick gravy. Adjust the seasoning, then add the lamb and shallots back to the sauce and serve with a pea couscous.

Pea Couscous to accompany Braised Lamb Shanks

340g instant couscous • 285ml boiling water • Zest of 1 lemon • 100g frozen peas, blanched • 1 tin chickpeas, rinsed and drained • Handful toasted pine nuts • Good handful shredded coriander • 1 bunch mint leaves finely shredded • 3tbsp olive oil

Mix the couscous with the boiling water in a bowl, season well and stir in olive oil, place a cover over the bowl and let it steam for 5 minutes. Then fluff up the couscous with a fork, and stir in peas, lemon zest, mint and coriander and serve with lamb shanks.

Tips

1. The lamb freezes well, as does the couscous
2. Chicken works well in this recipe; reduce the cooking time by 1 hour
3. Some of the true harissa pastes, eg rose harissa, are very very hot, and should only be added 1 teaspoon at a time

Lamb Casserole With Shallots And Chantenay Carrots

Serves 4

800g lamb neck fillet, cut into 2.5cm cubes • 750g potatoes, peeled & cut into large chunks • 12 shallots, peeled & left whole • 250g Chantenay carrots • 2 tbsp flour • 2 tbsp olive oil • 500ml hot water • 2 bay leaves • 1 sprig of rosemary • 1 clove garlic, crushed • 2 tbsp Worcester sauce • Salt & freshly ground black pepper

Preheat the oven to 170°C/Gas 3. Put the flour on a plate and season with salt and pepper. Roll the cubes of lamb in the flour to cover them lightly all over. In a large frying pan or oven proof casserole, add the olive oil and fry the lamb a few cubes at a time over a high heat to brown it on all sides – it is worth making sure you get a good bit of colour on the meat as this will really improve the flavour of the dish. As the lamb is browned, remove to a plate and continue until it is all done. In the same pan, adding a little more oil if necessary, fry the whole peeled shallots until they are slightly brown.

Return the lamb to the casserole and add the potatoes, herbs, garlic, Worcester sauce and hot water, giving everything a good stir and scraping the bottom to get off all the sticky caramelized bits that will add so much flavour. If you started browning the meat and shallots in a frying pan this is the time to transfer it to an oven proof casserole. Bring to the boil, put the lid on and cook in the oven for an hour..

Remove the casserole after an hour and add the carrots and taste to check the seasoning – adding a little more salt and pepper if necessary. Cover and return to the oven for 30 minutes to an hour, or until the lamb is really tender.

Serve immediately - this is a meal in itself but you may want some crusty bread to soak up the juices.

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