Shanks for the Memories

4 decent sized lamb shanks

3-4 medium shallots, quartered

2 medium carrots

1 small bulb of garlic, peeled and trimmed

1 glass of fruity, rich bodied red wine (I used Malbec)

2 tbsp tomato paste

330g bottle of cherry tomato passata

1.5 tsp dried oregano

1 tsp dried thyme

1lt beef stock

8-10 stalks parsley

¾ tbsp dried chilli flakes

Approx. 1tbsp Olive oil

Salt and pepper

Heat heavy based, oven proof pan on medium high heat. Add olive oil. Season shanks with salt and pepper and brown. Remove from pan and set aside.

Add carrots and shallots to oil. Caramelise, trying to scrape up brown bits left from the shanks. Add garlic, and cook, stirring occasionally until everything is nicely caramelised.

Add wine and deglaze. Once wine is reduced by about half, add tomato paste and cook, stirring, for a few minutes until everything is nice and thick.

Add passata, and season with oregano, thyme, chilli flakes, salt and pepper. Cook for a few minutes, until it has returned to a simmer. Add hot stock, stir to integrate everything, and return shanks to the pan. Pick the stalks of parsley, separating the leaves. Add stalks to the pan. They can sit right on top, as you’ll be removing those later. Put the leaves aside for later.

Place a circle of baking paper in the pan. It should sit right on top of the shanks and their liquid. Put the lid over this, and transfer to an oven, preheated to 180 degrees, for 2 hours.

Choose Your Own Ending – Classic: Remove parsley stalks and serve shanks on top of mashed potatoes or polenta with plenty of the chunky sauce. Chop parsley leaves and sprinkle over the top.

Feel Good: Towards the end of the cooking time, put a large pot of water on the stove to boil. Once at a rolling boil, add salt. Remove pan from the oven and discard parsley stalks. Remove shanks from liquid and return the pan to a medium high heat on the stovetop to reduce and thicken. Stir occasionally. Add 500g pappardelle to the boiling salted water. Meanwhile, shred the meat from the shanks and keep aside. When the pasta is ready, return the shanks to the braising liquid to reheat, drain the pasta and combine with sauce. Add finely chopped parsley. Shred what is an appropriate amount of parmesan cheese for you – I won’t presume to tell you how much that is. Enjoy. Note – the amount of shanks and sauce should be more than your pasta, so you will have leftovers. Either cook more pasta and combine the lot or put about half the shanks and sauce aside and make some pies or something the next day.

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