Italian Braised Lamb Shanks with Crispy Parmesan Crumbs
The fantastic thing about this recipe is that you can leave it to cook for at least 2½ hours (if not longer) without touching it, giving you plenty of time to go for a long walk, lazily read the papers or take a trip to your local. If necessary, it can even be made the day before. All you need to do is be around for the last 30 minutes to add some cannellini beans. I do, however, like to serve a green veg with this, but it is entirely up to you. Some buttered savoy cabbage or steamed broccoli will go beautifully.
|For the crispy Parmesan crumbs:|
|2 tbsp||olive oil|
|50g||white breadcrumbs (from a ciabatta, standard white loaf or baguette)|
|25g||Parmesan, finely grated|
|For the lamb shanks:|
|3 tbsp||olive oil|
|sea salt and freshly ground black pepper|
|1||large onion, finely chopped|
|2 sticks||of celery, thinly sliced|
|1||large carrot, finely diced|
|6 cloves||of garlic, crushed|
|1||medium aubergine, finely diced|
|200ml||lamb or chicken stock|
|1 tbsp||red wine vinegar|
|4 stalks||of rosemary|
|75-100g||pitted black olives|
|2 x 400g tins||of cannellini beans|
It’s up to you when you prepare the crispy Parmesan crumbs. They can be made a couple of days in advance if necessary. Heat the olive oil in a wok or saucepan and add the breadcrumbs. Fry for a couple of minutes until golden and crunchy. Transfer to a bowl, sprinkle over the Parmesan and toss to coat the crumbs.
Preheat the oven to 180ºC/fan 160ºC/gas 4.
Heat the oil in a heavy ovenproof casserole dish until very hot. Season the lamb shanks and add to the pan. Sear all over until lightly golden and then remove from the casserole on to a plate.
Reduce the heat slightly and add the onion, celery, carrot and garlic and cook for about 5 minutes until softened. Stir in the aubergine and continue to cook for a further couple of minutes.
Add the red wine, passata, stock, red wine vinegar, bay leaves, rosemary and olives. Bring to a simmer and then return the lamb shanks to the casserole, covering them as much as possible in the sauce. Cover with a lid and place in the oven for 2 to 2½ hours. (If you left it longer, it wouldn’t be the end of the world: the lamb would literally be falling off the bone.)
Remove the lid and stir in the cannellini beans. Return to the oven for a final 30 minutes of cooking, minus the lid.
Serve the lamb with the crispy Parmesan crumbs scattered over the top, offering any extra at the table, with vegetables on the side if you like.