I've always loved a good lamb shank when eating out and have always wanted to cook it at home but never really got around to doing it because I knew that they required a fair bit of cooking time. The easiest way to cook them would probably be to use a slowcooker however you generally need to plan ahead of time to get all your prep done and then pop the slow cooker on for a fair few hours if not a whole day.
The weekend that I wanted to cook lamb shanks was also a busy weekend, as I wasn't home on the Friday night and was going to be out on the Saturday. I had to do all my shopping on the Thursday and wake up extra early on the Saturday (when I usually sleep in) to do all my prep. I decided to adapt this recipe from taste as it sounded like a good hearty dish perfect for winter.
I thought that while I was at it I might as well double the recipe to make the most of the slow cooker. Didn't end up using all the vegies as they wouldn't have fitted into the slow cooker with the 8 lamb shanks I bought.
My shiney new knife from Wenger which I received as part of the Wenger Calabrian Master Class. Thought I might try it out at home and chop up some of my vegetables with it.
I can't say the knife made me any better at chopping, need to practice some more.
I find out that 'french' lamb shanks just means that they come ready trimmed from the butchers, the ones I bought were untrimmed so I thought I would trim them myself, not a very good attempt there so I gave up. I thought that most of the meat and fat would just fall off the end by the time cooking was done anyway.
As I had my 8 lamb shanks sitting in the fridge for a couple of days, they were a bit hard to miss and Mum had noticed them but couldn't figure out what kind of meat they were so she asked me. I told her they were lamb shanks, something that she actually was not familiar with. I guess lamb is not a common meat in Vietnam and the only lamb she knows of are the bbq chops and ribs she buys at the butchers and the cutlets which I've recently introduced to her.
I also chose this dish to cook because it was packed full of healthy vegies.
I had totally underestimated the capacity of the slow cooker, everything managed to just fit.
Making the most of flavours and minimising clean up, the liquids are poured into the pan and mixed together before adding to the slow cooker.
There was a fair bit of maneuvering around with the shanks, vegetables and liquid making sure that everything was covered. Now I have never used a slow cooker before, seeing as it's Mum's I was hoping that she was able to guide me. She couldn't even really tell me how to use it as she always leaves it on at medium setting and checks on it and when whatever it is that she is cooking is about half way done she turns it down.
I try and tell her that I've read you can leave the slow cooker on low and let it slowly cook for the whole day but she didn't seem to trust those instructions so insisted that we do it her way and that she'll look after it while I am out. Hmmm, I decided to leave my dear shanks in her control. I really hoped that they wouldn't be under or overcooked when I got home.
So I go out hoping that everything will be okay when I return home. Mum advises me that the meat is falling off the bone and that she has only just rotated the shanks around not too long ago as a few of them at the top wern't quite as tender. As I pull up a shank to test the meat I am excited to see that the meat is easily pulled off the bone. We have success! Though the few that had been sitting towards the top could have done with a bit more cooking time, if I knew I would have called home to get mum to rotate the shanks around half way through cooking.
Definately had to have mash potato so I left Ryan in charge of making it. He does a good job and it is absolutely soft and fluffy and creamy. I seriously can sit with a pot of mash potato and I'd be happy. He gets experimental and wants to add a bit of truffle oil to it. I am skeptical at first but it ends up complimenting the sauce really well giving the whole dish an earthy taste.
It was an absolute delight eating this on a cold winter night. It was so good I'd be happy to eat it any time of the year too.