Lamb Shanks

The last few days (okay, years) have been freezing here in the west of Ireland and yesterday, with the wind howling outside and rain pelting at the windows, I felt like we were still stuck in the depths of winter.  When the weather is like that it I always seek comfort in something hearty for dinner – there is nothing like knowing you have a big pot of stew on the hob or casserole in the oven to make you feel a little bit more cosy.  I tend to cook stews the day before for three reasons – firstly because they generally taste better when all of the ingredients have spent the night mingling together; secondly stews take hours of cooking and after a days work you don’t need to wait that long for dinner; and lastly letting the stew cool down allows any fat to solidify on the surface which makes it much easier to remove before heating up – greasy stew is not nice.   I had 4 rather large shanks – a bit bigger than I prefer but I won’t grumble about the butchers generosity – and they just about fit in my 28cm casserole.  I don’t ever flour the meat before browning – meat has to be browned on a high heat quickly (and without overloading the pan to avoid it steaming) and I find the flour burns and leaves a bitter black residue in the oil, so I tend to add it after the onions have been cooked and flavoured by all of the meaty bits left in the bottom of the pot. [Read more…]