Firstly some helpful forward planning information. My Dad is a very diligent weather checker (I am too. Maybe it’s genetic). He can tell you the weather forecast at any point in the day. Often in multiple cities. Now he has an iPhone he will possibly know the forecast of the entire planet. This can be quite handy for planning when you should cook this recipe, as by the time you realise it’s cold and wintry – it’s often too late to begin a 4 hour roast. So be like my Dad when the weather starts to turn down the heat dial. Study those forecasts, and work out when the time is right to make this soft, totally comforting, beautiful shank dish. As with all slow cooked recipes, you get the added bonus of your house smelling great and it’s low on the wash-up factor. I’ve made this recipe – or versions of it for years. It was based on a recipe by Alastair Hendy from a 2003 Vogue Entertaining.

storm approaching

She’s a comin’….batten down the hatches. This type of weather = shank alert.


Preparation is pretty quick – around half and hour to 45 minutes. This is definitely worth making it the day before as it improves overnight. Serves 8 – or maybe 4 if hungry boys are around.


2 – 3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
8 small lamb shanks
Salt & freshly ground black pepper to taste
4 small onions, peeled and halved
Few sticks celery
8 cloves garlic peeled & halved
500ml dry white wine
1½ tablespoons herbes de Provence (or use a mixture of dry herbs like thyme & oregano)
4 bay leaves
6 thyme leaves
500g mixed small onions, such as eschalots, brown, red & white onions
4 large leeks, trimmed, cut into large chunks

What to do

Prep work: Preheat the oven to about 160C. Heat up the oil in yer big, heavy casserole dish. Season the shanks with salt & pepper, then brown them all over, in a couple of batches. Once that’s done, put all the shanks in the casserole dish (ideally in one layer) then add the 4 small onions, celery and half the garlic. Add one tablespoon of the herbes de Provence, the wine and about 300ml of water. Then get the bay leaves and half of the thyme leaves, and sort of wedge them in, and season with more pepper and salt.

onions onions everywhere the shank stuff

Herby and onion things waiting to be thrown into the mix.

Cookin’ the sucker: Put a lid on the casserole dish and bring to the boil. Then get them into the oven for good 3 -4 hours, or until the meat is mega tender. You can refrigerate it overnight and then finish it off the next day – it will only get better.

Then about 30 minutes before you want to serve it, put the mixed onions and remaining garlic in a smaller saucepan. Add olive oil and the remaining herbes de Provence and thyme leaves, and add some salt and pepper to taste.

Raid the cooking juices from the lamb shanks (about 2 decent sized ladlefuls) and bring to the boil. Put the lid back on, get the heat down very low and simmer gently for about 20 minutes. Then add the leeks over the onions and simmer (with the lid back on), for another 10 minutes. Meanwhile, bring the shanks back on the stove and get them heated through.

To serve: You could serve the shanks on a hot serving dish, or just plate em up individually. Strain the gravy in the casserole into a vessel and serve with a good mash (or the Potato Dish) and steamed vegies.

Make sure it’s a dark and stormy night and drink with a good bottle of Margaret River red.