This basic cooking method can be used with many different cuts of meat, including shoulder and ribs. The real magic comes from when the tough and
sinewy cuts become tender, and if there are bones (particularly marrow bones) in the mix, this dish gains an unctuousness and richness that is deeply satisfying.
Since the meat has broken down, it’s easy to digest and the gravy will be rich in nutrients, including collagen and gelatine, which help to soothe the digestive system.
We love the combination of dried mint, fennel seeds and porcini powder; it gives it an edge that’s a bit different. Serve this with baked potatoes or sprouted buckwheat
2 tablespoons olive oil
4 lamb shanks
1 onion, roughly chopped
2 garlic cloves, chopped
2 carrots, roughly chopped
1 celery stalk, roughly chopped
1 leek (white part only), roughly chopped
2 teaspoons fennel seeds
1 teaspoon thyme leaves
1 teaspoon dried mint
1 teaspoon porcini powder
1 swede, roughly chopped
1 turnip, roughly chopped
2 parsnips, roughly chopped
1–2 cups (250–500 ml)
chicken stock, to top up
3 handfuls chopped mint and
1 garlic clove, finely chopped
Finely grated zest of 1 lemon
Preheat oven to 90°C (200°F). Heat oil in a large, ovenproof, heavy-based saucepan (cast-iron is ideal) over medium–high heat until melted and shimmering. Add lamb shanks and fry, turning, for 8–10 minutes until browned all over. Remove lamb
and set aside.
Reduce heat to low, add onion and garlic and fry gently, stirring occasionally, for 5 minutes until fragrant and soft. Add carrot, celery and leek, and cook gently for another 5 minutes, then add fennel seeds, thyme, dried mint and porcini powder.
Fry, stirring occasionally, for 5 minutes or until aromatic.
Return lamb to the saucepan along with swede, turnip, parsnip and enough stock to just cover. Cover with a circle of baking paper, then a lid, then transfer to oven and cook for 6–8 hours (or overnight) or until meat is falling off the bone. (If you need to speed things up, you can use slightly less stock, whack up the temperature to 180°C/350°F for 30 minutes, then reduce to 150°C/300°F and cook for a further 90 minutes.)
Rest for 10 minutes.
Meanwhile, make the gremolata by combining all ingredients in a small bowl.
Serve at the table straight from the pot with gremolata sprinkled liberally over the top.