The whole object of travel is not to set foot on foreign land; it is at last to set foot on one’s own country as a foreign land.” – G.K. Chesterton

Tuesday, 8 April 2014

Super-simple slow-cooked oven-braised lamb shanks

I'm not much of a red meat eater. In fact, I used to detest lamb because of its strong gamey smell, and I didn't eat much lamb while growing up (lamb doesn't feature strongly in Malaysian cuisine, and it didn't help that my mum also doesn't like to eat red meat). Hubby and son loves lamb, so I make the effort to cook lamb at least once a week, especially as it's the only good haem source of iron my son can eat (he developed a slight allergy to beef a couple of years ago). In the 13 years of eating with hubby and cooking for him, I have grown to like cooking and eating lamb. It certainly is great encouragement when hubby says I cook lamb better than his mum!

Last Sunday I dabbled for the first time with the slow-cooking method, using lamb shanks which I'd never cooked before. Slow-cooking is definitely a good choice for time-poor home cooks, and I'm surprised it's taken me this long to try it! What I love most about this recipe - aside from its deliciousness - is that I could just put the ingredients into a casserole dish, place it in the oven, walk away and return 3 hours later to a beautifully cooked dish that tastes utterly divine. I looked at several recipes for braised lamb shanks, and in the end decided to just keep the braising liquid simple using the holy trinity of cooking (aka mirepoix, soffrito) plus a generous amount of garlic and mushrooms with a splash of cooking wine. It smelled really good while the shanks were cooking, and the flavours were amazing! And all for such little effort!

Slow-cooked Oven-braised Lamb Shanks

Super-tender lamb:

2 tablespoons olive oil
2 lamb shanks (about 450g or 1 pound each)
1 medium onion, diced
1 carrot, diced
3 stalks celery, sliced
6 cloves garlic, finely chopped
200g whole mushrooms
150mL chicken stock
50mL mirin (white/red wine would also do great)


Note: Using a stove-safe and oven-safe casserole pot with a lid or a Dutch oven would be brilliant for this recipe. Also good for a slow-cooker.

1. Preheat oven to 160degC.
2. Using half the oil in a hot pan, sear the lamb shanks on all sides over high heat. Transfer shanks to a casserole dish.

Browning the shanks for some tasty Maillard reaction goodness:

3. Turn down the heat to medium, and use the remaining oil to sauté the mirepoix (onion, garlic, carrot and celery) for a few minutes, taking care not to brown the vegetables.
4. Add the mushrooms and continue sautéing for a couple more minutes, then add the mirin and stock and bring to a simmer. Turn off heat and join contents with the lamb shanks.

Shanks ready for the oven:

5. Cover and bake in the oven for 3 hours.

Place in oven, and leave for 3 hours!

It is not necessary to turn the shanks, especially if completely submerged in the cooking liquid, but I turned these over about halfway through the cooking process:

6. Serve shanks as you like. Would be great with mashed sweet potatoes, rice, couscous etc with some steamed asparagus or green beans.

Three hours later:


  1. We add sweet potato into our pot. It disintegrates into the stew and thickens it up. So yummy!

  2. That sounds yummy! Though I think that buttered mashed sweet potatoes also sound like a nice accompaniment :)