Hi! I’m going to make lamb shanks this morning because it’s a busy day and I want to have a beautiful dinner tonight. But I’m not going to be home later to cook it so I’m going to get it going here now and let my slow cooker to do all the work while I’m gone all day. I’m going to show you how quick and fast it is to do everything, before you even take off for the day.
Take out your slow cooker. Anytime you’re going to cook meat you also want to let the meat sit out a little bit so it gets more to room temperature and cooks more evenly. So, I took out my lamb shanks before we had breakfast and I’m going to take my big pan and get them browning. I take coconut oil which is my favorite high heat oil and I am going to brown the shanks so I need medium to high heat.
While that’s heating up, I’m going to think what else I will have with my lamb shanks. I am going to have carrots, onions, and some garlic cloves. While the pan is heating, I will start chopping things up. So, because everything is going in the slow cooker and gets nice and melded together, you can really be random about how you cut it, it is really up to you. You can have big chunks of onions, you can have tiny little chunks, depends on if you want thin sauce or chunky sauce. Lamb shanks always come out delicious. It’s a beautiful cut of meat, it has plenty of fat to make the sauce tasty, so you can really play around with the sauce. I am going to show you basic way that I have been doing them. It’s a little bit of tomato paste, a little bit of tomato puree, some dried herbs, nothing fancy. Because that way anytime you want to cook some shanks, you usually have all the ingredients on hand. But once you get down the basics, then you can try out some different shank recipes, some orange peel, red wine is always good. You can use stock or water…you don’t have to be fancy, it’s all up to you. This really is all about just getting food cooking, so that you have a nice dinner when you come home. It’s really more about convenience and having healthy food when you don’t have a lot of time for preparation.
So I have done my onions quite small like that, just diced them up, and I am going to dice up some carrots now. You notice my carrots are all funky looking – this is a really good way to get cheap, organic carrots. They are certified organic but I bought them as juicing carrots because they are not pretty. They are all the pieces that came out funny looking. People like pretty food so the not pretty ones are really cheap. So I bought my juicing carrots because I’m going to chop them up anyway, It doesn’t matter what they look like. I am doing them fairly small this time. I do them kind of cut in half and then do some half moons. That way it’s just going to go in with the sauce.
I think my pan is going to be nice and hot now so I am going to check it. Go like that to get the oil around. You can kinda see when it is getting hot, but sometimes I just go like this (sprinkle some water). It is hot. Throw my shanks on. Look at that, nice big pan so you can get six shanks in there all at once. I’m going to get my insert from the slow cooker and put it over here so when the shanks are ready, they’ll go straight in.
I’ll finish my chopping, will do lots of carrots. You can make carrots the main veggie inside the slow cooker with the shanks or you can dice them up really small and make them part of the sauce. All this can be done while the little one is drawing and playing over there on her table. This is one of Kaiya’s favourite meals. Nice and messy, kids love it, they can pick up the bones and eat the meat; suck the marrow out of the bottom of the bone. I have got my carrot and my onions, and I’m going to do a few little garlic cloves. I cut the ends off the garlic and then I press the knife on top of the garlic, give it a little push and then the skin comes off much easier. Garlic and rosemary are always well paired with lamb so I like to put lots of garlic. Ok, I am going to check on my shanks. Get my tongs, give them a twist. Yep, they’re getting nice and brown.
Most people picture shanks on top of a big bed of mash potato, I happen to love that as well. So yeah, you can serve your lamb shanks on a bed of mash potato, or you can serve them Mediterranean style with some couscous. Or if you don’t want to have any starch or any grains, you can just serve them as is, and you can make your sauce more full of vegetables. Another good veggie that goes well with this would be celery. Celery breaks down beautifully in the slow cooker. Recently we actually even had our lamb shanks on a bed of spinach, didn’t even cook it (the spinach). Put a big bed of baby spinach and then popped the lamb shanks on top, poured the sauce over and it looked beautiful.
ABOVE: Primal Recipes – Slow Cooked Lamb Shanks
Now, with slow cookers, browning your meat beforehand is optional. It is an extra step, it does take extra time. I like to do it with shanks in particular, as it doesn’t take as long as when you have diced meat, and gives it some extra colour and flavor. Now my shanks are looking nice and brown, I am going to put them in the slow cooker. I got a nice big slow cooker so can fit six shanks in here. We are a family of three but I always make at least double so we have a lot of leftovers. Take that (pan) off the heat for a second while I try to get my shanks in. I don’t want it (the oil) to be too hot that it starts smoking, so that will cool it down a little bit.
Now we’re going to throw all this stuff on. I am going to throw the onion on first. I’ve still got plenty of coconut oil, plus the grease from the lamb which gives it a really a nice flavor. Onions are getting nice and brown, it only takes a couple minutes. I will throw the garlic on now and all the carrots on top. With the carrots you can do them with the sauce, like I am doing now, or you can just throw them in (slow cooker) on top later. But this way the carrots get mixed in with the herbs and sauce, so just let it pick up all the beautiful brown bits of the lamb from the bottom of the pan. Then I grab some of my herbs from my cabinet, some thyme and rosemary. You can use fresh herbs or dried herbs or a combination of the two. All depends on what you have on hand at the time, and will prevent you from saying that you can’t make the recipe because you don’t have the right ingredients. You can just “wing it”, as long as you have the basic idea.
Now, I like tomato passata, as it comes in a jar instead of a can, and it’s just basically a tomato puree. And organic concentrated tomato paste gives a really good thick texture. Two heaping tablespoons does it for the tomato paste and then add the passata, which is nice and runny so pour it on generously. Again I’m not really measuring here; I just kind of pour it on until I can see that I can cook my veggies in it. So I’ve coated the onion, garlic, carrots and herbs with my tomato paste and tomato puree and I am going to let the heat go a bit high to let the flavors meld together. It’s quite thick so I just get a tiny bit of filtered water and pour that on. You can be the judge of your own sauce thickness. I let it come to a bit of a boil and now simmer. Let it simmer for five to ten minutes; really depends on how much time you have. Once it’s ready just pick it up (the pan) and pour it on top of our shanks.
Put it (the slow cooker) on low so it can cook all day long. You can really keep your shanks in there for eight to ten hours and not worry if you’re going to be home late from work. It will be beautiful when you get home. It’s done and literally, look what I have to clean up – hardly any dishes, just my pan and a chopping board and I will have a beautiful dinner when I get home.
Like I said, if you want to have some potato with it, or some sweet potato, you can really just chop them in half and throw them on top, and when you get home, that can be your base.
“Shanks” for watching!
Slow Cooked Lamb Shanks – July 2013