Lamb Shank, Guinness, Orange Zest and Star Anise Stew

This dish is a taste sensation, and it represents what winter comfort food should be to me: hearty but nourishing and not unhealthy; comforting but never  bland. The flavours are unique but you’ll be surprised at how well they all work together. The slow cooking lets them develop intensely.

This is also very easy and quick to prepare. And once you’ve put it in the oven or slow cooker you can get on with doing something else, or even go out for the afternoon. And when you come home, ravenously hungry, the intoxicating aroma will hit you when you open your front door. God I love winter.

Serves 4

  • 2 lamb shanks
  • 1 large onion, peeled and diced
  • 1 garlic clove, crushed
  • about a tablespoon chopped fresh rosemary
  • zest of about half an orange, peeled in strips
  • 2 star anises
  • 250 ml Guinness
  • 1 cup red lentils, washed
  • 1 x 400 g tin diced tomatoes
  • 200 ml water

For the mint gremolata:

  • Small handful of mint, very finely chopped
  • Remaining zest of orange

Preheat the oven to 160 c.

Heat some oil in a flameproof casserole dish and saute the onions for about 5 minutes until soft and turning golden. Add the garlic, rosemary, and  orange strips, and stir around. Add the shanks, and brown on both sides for a minute or two. Pour over the Guinness, let it foam and then simmer for a few minutes until it’s reduced a bit. Add the lentils, tomatoes, water and star anise. Stir, bring to the boil, then place the lid on the dish and put into the oven. Cook for 2-2 1/2 hours, checking a few times to make sure it doesn’t need any more water.

If you intend to go out and leave it unattended, drop the temperature a little and add about half a cup more water.

Mix mint and orange zest together for the topping.

Scrape the meat off the bones and serve sprinkled with the mint gremolata and a side of your favourite greens. Steamed cavalo nero tossed in olive oil and lemon juice is perfect. Roasted brussel sprouts or broccoli would also be superb.

 

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