People absolutely love lamb shanks. You cook them until they’re just falling apart and they develop the most amazing flavours. This recipe is all about investing in dark sticky sauce and tender meat. We’re spoiled for choice when it comes to interesting ales, and adding a good dark ale or even Guinness to the onions creates the most brilliant depth of flavour. The sauce here makes enough for ten lamb shanks, so if you want to make this recipe serve more people, just plop a few more shanks into the pan and top up with a little more stock if need be. Whatever you do, do NOT skip the mint oil or spring onions. It’s like switching on a light, and just that simple little touch makes the whole dish sing.
Finely chop the onions and put them into a really large casserole-type pan (roughly 26cm in diameter and 12cm deep), with a lug of olive oil and a good pinch of salt and pepper. Cook over a medium to high heat, stirring as you go, until the onions start to caramelize. Add the raisins and marmalade, then add the ketchup, Worcestershire sauce and booze. Give it all a good stir, then leave to gently simmer.
Put the lamb shanks into a large frying pan (roughly 30cm wide) on a medium to high heat with a drizzle of olive oil – you can cook them in batches if needed. Turn them every few minutes; once they have some good colour, pick in the rosemary leaves and move them around in the pan to get crispy, but don’t let them burn. Use tongs to move the shanks into the pan of onions, then pour in all their juices and the crispy rosemary. Add the stock, put the lid on, turn down the heat and leave to blip away slowly for around 3 hours, or until the meat falls off the bone easily. Try to turn the shanks halfway through so they cook evenly.
When the lamb shanks are ready, carefully move them to a platter, making sure the meat stays intact. Whiz or liquidize the gravy with a stick blender until smooth, then allow to reduce down and thicken. Quickly bash most of the mint leaves in a pestle and mortar with a good pinch of salt and the olive or rapeseed oil, then take to the table. Finely slice up the spring onions and toss on a plate with the remaining fresh mint leaves, a drizzle of cider vinegar and a pinch of salt.
Add a little splash of cider vinegar and a few more splashes of Worcestershire sauce to the sauce, then ladle it all over the lamb shank and pour the rest into a jug for people to help themselves. Scatter the vinegary spring onions and a few fresh mint leaves all over the top, drizzle the mint oil all around the shanks, and serve with lovely potato and celeriac mash. The plate will be clean before you know it.