Cooked with the Mediterranean flavours of rosemary and garlic, this is where the magic of slow cooking transforms something that, cooked on a high heat, would be very tough, into something soft and tender. Taken from one of our featured books of the week, Forgotten Skills of Cooking by Darina Allen, it is great with true veld-raised lamb.


4 lamb shanks, about 1kg
8 small sprigs of rosemary
8 slivers garlic
4 anchovy fillets, halved
Salt and freshly ground black pepper

For the tomato fondue:
1T  extra-virgin olive oil
110g onions, sliced
1 garlic clove, crushed
900g very ripe tomatoes, peeled
Salt, freshly ground pepper and sugar to taste
2T  of any or a combination of the following: freshly chopped mint, thyme, parsley, lemon balm, marjoram or torn basil
Few drops of balsamic vinegar (optional)

For braising:
30g duck fat or olive oil
225g pancetta or streaky bacon
2 carrots, roughly chopped
2 celery stalks, roughly chopped
1 leek, roughly chopped
1 onion, roughly chopped
1 garlic head, halved horizontally
225ml  good red wine
300ml lamb or chicken stock
Sprig of thyme
2 sprigs of rosemary
2 bay leaves
2 strips of dried orange peel
1 x 400g tin cannellini beans, drained or 200g dried cannellini beans, soaked overnight then boiled rapidly for 30 minutes
600ml homemade chicken or lamb stock
2 sprigs of thyme
2 sprigs of rosemary, leaves from, chopped
Sprigs of rosemary, for garnish

Make the tomato fondue:

  • Heat the oil in a casserole or stainless-steel saucepan. Add the onions and garlic and toss until coated. Cover and sweat on a gentle heat until the onions and garlic are soft but not coloured.
  • Slice the tomatoes and add with all the juice to the onions. Season with salt, pepper and sugar. Add a generous sprinkling of herbs. Cook, uncovered, for about 10 minutes, or until the tomatoes soften. A few drops of balsamic vinegar at the end of cooking will greatly enhance the flavour.
  • Next, preheat the oven to 150ºC. Remove most of the fat from each shank and then scrape the meat away from the bone to loosen it.
  • Make two deep incisions in each shank and insert a sprig of rosemary and a sliver of garlic wrapped in half an anchovy fillet into each incision. Season the meat with salt and black pepper.
  • Heat the duck fat or olive oil in a heavy sauté pan or casserole and sauté the meat until it is well browned on all sides. Remove the lamb shanks from the pan.
  • Next add the bacon and cook until crisp, then add the carrots, celery, leek, onion and garlic and cook over a high heat until slightly browned. Add the red wine to the pan and bring to the boil, stirring for a minute or two.
  • Add the stock, herbs and orange peel to the pan, then place the lamb shanks on top. Cover and cook in the oven for 2¼ hours.
  • Remove from the oven and add the tomato fondue, cannellini beans, herbs and enough stock to half-cover the beans. Cover and simmer for a further 45 minutes to 1 hour.
  • When the lamb has finished cooking it should be falling off the bone. Remove the thyme, bay leaves and orange peel. Taste and correct the seasoning.
  • Serve the lamb shanks in a hot, deep dish with the beans and vegetables poured over and around. Garnish with sprigs of fresh rosemary and thyme.

Serves 4


Click here for more recipes from Forgotten Skills of Cooking by Darina Allen