With the shelves creaking under the weight of my cookbook collection, it is rare to find a recipe that is a complete novelty these days. However, whilst flicking through a magazine at the weekend, I came across this recipe for lamb shank pies which I have never seen done before. The lamb shanks are braised on the hob until just tender and then encased in pastry to create a fun Fred Flinstone-esque pie, with the shank bone sticking out of the top.
The recipe itself was a bit hit and miss and I ended up adapting it quite heavily. In particular, the original was very stingy with the gravy and veggies so I have upped the quantities significantly in my version below. The original also used a cream cheese pastry which I love but which wasn’t quite as good as Dan Lepard’s version so I will direct you to his pastry recipe on the Guardian website here.
Unfortunately for me, the recipe also neglected to explain what to do if your lamb shanks came untrimmed (as mine did). Having no butchery skills whatsoever, this left me perplexed as to how I was going to get that lovely bone to stick majestically out of the pie. Through a combination of luck and Google, I managed to come up with the following solution. Firstly, score a line around the thin end of the shank, about 3-4cm from the top. Using a small sharp knife, cut the meat above the line away from the bone, leaving the top 3-4cm of bone exposed. Scrape the exposed bone clean (You can add these scraps of meat back into the gravy, or in my case, give them to a willing canine kitchen assistant). That’s all there is to it as the remaining meat will contract as it cooks, gradually revealing more of the bone.
This would be a great dinner party recipe as the finished pies look spectacular. Whilst the spiced gravy is evocative of winter, a side note to the original recipe recommends replacing the spices with thyme and bay leaves, substituting the red wine for white, and adding beans, sugar snaps and baby carrots for a lighter springtime version.
Lamb Shank Pot Pies (adapted from “Eat In 2012” magazine)
- ½ quantity of Dan Lepard’s cream cheese pastry (save remaining half egg for the egg wash)
- 2 tbsp olive oil
- 8 shallots, peeled and halved
- 4 carrots, peeled and cut into chunks
- 2 lamb shanks, trimmed (see note above)
- 2 tbsp flour, seasoned
- 500ml red wine
- 250ml beef stock
- 4 juniper berries
- 4 star anise
- 2 cinnamon sticks
- handful of parsley, chopped finely
- salt and pepper
1. Heat the oil in a saucepan/frying pan with a lid (large enough to fit the shanks in). Fry the shallots and carrot until golden, remove and set aside. Dust the lamb shanks in the flour then, using the same pan, brown the shanks on all sides. Return the vegetables to the pan, turn up the heat and add the red wine. Allow to bubble furiously for a minute or so. Turn down the heat and add the stock and spices. Cover the pan with foil and then the lid. Simmer for 1 ½ to 2 hours, until the meat is tender but not falling off the bone.
2. Preheat the oven to 190C/170C fan/Gas 5. Remove the lamb shanks from the pan and place each shank in an ovenproof bowl or deep pie dish. If your gravy looks a little thin, you can thicken it with cornflour at this stage. Stir the parsley into the gravy then divide the gravy and all the vegetables between the bowls.
3. Roll out the pastry to about 5mm thick and cut out two circles slightly bigger than the diameter of your pie dishes. Place the dough over the top of the pie dish, gently easing the bone through the pastry so that it sticks out. Wrap foil around the bone to stop it burning and then brush the top of the pies with beaten egg. Bake for 25-30 minutes until golden brown.