31 August 2014

Ale & Marmalade Lamb Shanks

One last comfort dish before we hit Spring....tomorrow! It’s not that it’s been a bad Winter & I even missed a whole month of it enjoying long lazy Summer days in mother country it’s just that I get so excited for Spring. Longer, warmer days, sunshine & asparagus, though yet to spy some of those delectable green spears. However, they can’t be too far away.

“Is the spring coming?" he said. "What is it like?"...
"It is the sun shining on the rain and the rain falling on the sunshine...” 
Frances Hodgson Burnett, The Secret Garden

It actually felt like it had come early last weekend, but that was just a tease  as rain & wind has returned to remind us to be patient, that mother nature won't be rushed.

One of life’s comfort foods is lamb shanks, for me preferably atop a mound of fluffy buttery mashed potato. They should be tender, falling off the bone & melt in the mouth.  These ones comes with a rich sticky sauce with a hint of marmalade giving them a little sweetness alongside a little tart. A drizzle of bright fresh mint oil, a scattering of fresh mint leaves & a sprinkle of spring onions cut through the tender meat & treacly sauce to make this dish pop.

Ale & Marmalade Lamb Shanks, adapted from Jamie’s Guinness Lamb Shanks


2 red onions, peeled & finely chopped
Olive oil 
1 handfuls raisins 
3 tbsp Seville orange marmalade 
2 tbsp tomato ketchup 
2 tbsp Worcestershire sauce, plus extra for serving 
Good pinch chilli flakes
500ml dark ale...I used Harrington’s Pig & Whistle, a mild dark ale
4 quality lamb shanks, roughly 350g each 
4 sprigs fresh rosemary 
1 ltr chicken stock 
1 small bunch fresh mint leaves 
A few tbsp olive oil 
2 spring onions, trimmed & thinly sliced
Cider vinegar


Place the onions in a large heavy based saucepan or casserole dish with a few tablespoons of olive oil & a pinch of salt. Cook over a medium heat, stirring every now & then, until the onions caramelise.  Add the raisins, marmalade, ketchup, Worcestershire sauce, chilli flakes & ale & give everything a good stir. Turn down the heat & let it simmer

Meanwhile heat a few more tablespoons of olive oil in a large frying pan & add the lamb shanks.  Don’t over crowd the pan & cook in batches if you need to.  Turn them every few moments to brown them all over.  Once coloured add the rosemary leaves & let them brown & get crispy but not burn.

Add the lamb shanks & rosemary to the saucepan with the sauce.  Add the stock, put the lid on, turn down the heat & leave them be for 2-3 hours* until the meat is falling off the bone.  Turn the shanks around ever hour or so to ensure they cook evenly.

*Cooking time will depend on the size of the lamb shanks, you’ll see them start to come away from the bone when ready.

When done, carefully & gently remove the lamb shanks & move them to a platter, keeping them intact.  With a hand blender blend the sauce until smooth. If need be let it cook a little longer to reduce & thicken.

Place most of the mint leaves in a pestle & mortar with a good pinch of salt & the olive oil & give it a good smashing until you have a vibrant green oil.  Spoon the sauce over the lamb shanks.  Drizzle the oil around the lamb, scatter over the remaining mint leaves & spring onions.  To finish drizzle over a little cider vinegar & serve with a pile of mash potatoes.



  1. Oh, this sounds sooooo delicious - Mairi - and yeah spring is here - not that it really feels like here in HB but let's celebrate anyway:)

    1. Thanks Rachel, even with daylight saving it doesn't feel like spring! Hopefully it changes soon!

  2. What a magnificent recipe! It looks and sounds fabulous! I love lamb and think it is the best winter comfort food and particularly love it with a hint of sweet. This recipe is perfect.

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