Braised lamb shanks with creamy parsnip mash
- Find a casserole pot or roasting pan with a lid that is big enough to take all the lamb shanks. If you need 2 pots, check they will both fit in the oven at the same time.
- Turn oven to 180C (fan) or 200C (conventional).
- Chop the onions, celery and carrots into even chunks of about 1.5-2cm.
- Heat the oil in the pot on the hob. Brown the shanks on all sides, doing this in batches if that makes it easier.
- Remove the lamb shanks from the pan and put to one side.
- Put the onions, celery and carrots in the pan and cook on a moderate heat, stirring only occasionally, until nicely browned.
- Add the whole garlic cloves, parsley stalks, rosemary, peppercorns, bay leaves to the vegetables, and cook for 5 minutes to bring out the flavours.
- Stir in the flour and tomato paste over the heat, then pour in the white wine to ‘deglaze’ the flavourful cooking residues around the pot into the sauce.
- Add the chicken stock and a teaspoon of sea salt flakes and stir through.
- Put the lamb shanks back in the pot – the liquid should come a little over half way up the shanks. Continue to heat on the hob until it starts simmering. Put the lid on and transfer to the oven.
- Cook for 2 hours, but half-way through remove from the oven briefly to turn the shanks. Check the liquid level is still about half-way up them, and add a little more stock if necessary.
- Peel the parsnips, cut into 3cm chunks and start cooking them about 20 minutes before the lamb shanks are done. Place them in a pan of cold water and bring to the boil. Simmer for about 20 minutes.
- Prepare to cook any other vegetables you plan to serve– carrots and/or peas provide a colourful contrast.
- When the shanks are ready, remove them from the pot and put aside on a plate while you cook the sauce on the hob for another 10 minutes or until it reduces to the consistency you want.
- Strain the sauce and discard all the vegetables and herbs. Return sauce and shanks to pot to warm through again before serving.
- When parsnips are tender to the point of a knife, drain them fully and use a masher (or ideally a potato ricer). Add the butter while still hot, and then the cream. Season with sea salt, ground white pepper and nutmeg. Stir through and serve straight on to warm plates.
- Serve one shank per person, with one end balanced on the parsnip mash. Pour a few spoons of sauce over each shank. Add any other vegetables.
- Serve this with a Chianti Classico or Rioja Reserva.
- You can cook it on the day, or cook the shanks and finish the sauce one or two days ahead. Simply reheat the shanks in the sauce and prepare the vegetables to serve.
- The recipe can easily be adjusted for 2 or 4 serves. You can make it for more people too, but may need to do it in batches/in advance depending on the size of your pots and your oven.
- Try making your own chicken stock and freezing it until needed. Your guests will notice the difference in the flavour of the sauce.
- Using a potato ricer stops the harder stringy bits from the parsnip stem getting into the mash.