These are rich, sticky, tender and super delicious. If you like lamb shanks and want an easy recipe, try this.
Firstly, you need a slow cooker or french oven (e.g. Le Creuset) to get the best out of this recipe.
4 lamb shanks
Flour, seasoned with salt and freshly ground black pepper, for dusting the shanks
Approx 6 tbsp rice bran oil - not olive oil, see my note in step 3
4 shallots, sliced
1/2 a leek, sliced
About a 5cm knob of fresh ginger, all crushed except, if you like ginger, keep 1cm aside and roughly chop this into small cubes
2 star anise
2 cloves garlic, crushed 4 springs of rosemary, leaves stripped from stalks
Small handful of fresh thyme sprigs
300ml red wine - use something nice and enjoy a glass with your meal
200ml balsamic vinegar
Salt and freshly ground black pepper - I use pink Himalayan rock salt
Fluffy white rice and blanched green beans (if you wish) to serve.
Note you can easily halve this recipe to 2 lamb shanks.
1. Turn on your slow cooker or set aside your french oven. If using the latter, heat your oven to 160°C. I'm going to use my slow cooker and start it on high.
2. Remove any sinew from the lamb shanks and dust with seasoned flour.
3. Place a large, deep frying pan over high heat and add half the rice bran oil. Place the lamb shanks in the frying pan, two at a time and colour on all sides. Remove from the frying pan and place in the cooker for adding to later.
NB: I love olive oil, however, not for cooking where you'll heat it to above ~160°C. Instead, use a vegetable based oil like rice bran which has a higher smoke point. The reason is, olive oil has a low smoke point and thus, when heated above ~160°C it starts to break down chemically producing toxins.
4. In the same frying pan on medium heat, add the rest of the rice bran oil. Add sliced leek and shallots and cook slowly until they look translucent, juicey and are brown in colour. Add the garlic and ginger and sauté for 1-2 minutes. Then add rosemary and thyme - bruise (i.e. rub) the rosemary leaves and add the thyme with stalks included. Cook for a further 2-3 minutes and lastly, add the red wine, the balsamic vinegar and star anise.
By this time the aroma from your fry pan will make your tummy rumble.
5. Straight after adding the wine and balsamic, pour your fry pan ingredients over the lamb shanks in the slow cooker or french oven.
6. Place lid on and cook for up to 5 hours on high first if using a slow cooker, then turn to low 2 hours into the cooking time. If using a french oven at 160°C, you may want to check on your shanks after 2 hours as the reduction process may go a bit quicker than the slow cooker - if that's the case turn the oven down a bit.
The wine and balsamic sauce will reduce, flavour the meat and once done, the meat should fall from the bone.
Serve with fluffy white rice, green beans if you wish, and a glass of red.