Lamb Shanks with Olive and Anchovy, on Soft Polenta
NB: Don't be put off if you hate anchovy (I do), you won't even know they're there. You can leave the olives out if you prefer, they just flavour the sauce.
1/4 cup (or less) olive oil
4 lamb shanks (about 300g each), pref. french-trimmed
4 cloves garlic, crushed
2 tblspn plain flour
2 tblspn tomato paste
500ml red wine
1 cup chicken stock
100g jumbo green olives (or whatever you can find)
Flat-leaf parsley, to serve
1. Preheat oven to 180C. If the lamb shanks aren't trimmed, trim as much fat off them as you can.
2. Heat as much olive oil as your cholesterol can deal with in a large, heavy-based pan or casserole dish, bearing in mind that less oil can make the sauce a bit more tricky (but I don't think I've ever used the entire 1/4 cup). If your pan isn't oven-proof you will have to swap to one at step 5. Brown the lamb shanks well over high heat and remove.
3. Reduce heat, add garlic and anchovies and stir until the anchovies fall apart (you should have a paste, but don't stress if not). Add flour and tomato paste and stir for 3 minutes. This is where it can get a bit tricky.
4. Stir in wine (I swap to a whisk at this point and add it gradually), and boil for five minutes, stirring to remove lumps. This should give you a thick, satiny, dark burgundy sauce. If it's a bit grainy, don't worry, any lumps won't survive long.
5. Add chicken stock, olives and shanks, cover, and cook in oven for 2 hours or until meat falls off bone (you might want to turn the shanks once). Sprinkle individual serves with parsley (if you can be bothered).
I have done the same recipe with eight shanks - simply increase the stock and red wine (and possibly the tomato paste), so that the shanks are covered and don't burn in the oven.
I like this with soft polenta (this is enough for 4):
2 cups milk (I use low-fat)
150g polenta (the recipe specifies 'instant', but every brand I've tried cooks so fast it doesn't matter)
1/2 cup grated parmesan
Begin about five minutes before serving.
1. Combine milk with 2 cups water and bring to boil.
2. Whisk in polenta in a steady stream, and stir for 3-5 minutes until mixture is thick.
3. Remove from heat, stir in parmesan and butter, and season to taste.
This recipe halves or quarters well (Daniel prefers mash so I make a small amount of polenta just for me).
© 'Simple', Australian Gourmet Traveller, 2003