Before mentioning ANYTHING about this recipe, I have to thank all of you for the incredible support you’ve shown me over the last week. Shooting for Pasella (South-African variety TV show) has been one of the most exciting and fun things I’ve done in my life and even though it took me a while to get used to the camera and crew, it really showed me that this is something I’d love to do. And thank you so much for all the kind comments and saying I’m a “natural” on TV. That is probably one of the best compliments I’ve ever received.
Now back to this recipe. When the producers asked me what my favourite thing to cook around Easter is, I said the usual chocolatey stuff and of course hot cross buns but I also mentioned this fabulous lamb shank recipe and they immediately said YES! Do the lamb shanks. I think, especially as South Africans, most of us have a love for lamb because we have such stunning lamb in our Country. Also, the fact that the prep for this recipe takes all of 5 minutes before you can throw it in the oven and forget about it for 3-4 hours, is pretty attractive too, right?
I have to give all the glory for this recipe to my amazing father. He is a really good cook but he, like me, likes to make food that’s fast but seriously delicious. And he is, what I like to call, a “throw-it-in” kind of cook. He’ll add anything, and I mean anything, to a dish to get to the taste his after. That’s how he came up with using salad dressing as a marinade and cooking liquid for lamb, and WOW, does it work! Something about the vinegar and oils combined really penetrate the meat and the result is lamb that is falling off the bone and a sauce with the most incredible flavour.
Being a woman, I like to make things pretty too so I add a quartered onion, a quartered lemon, garlic and some fresh herbs. Not only does that add to the looks of this dish, but also the taste. On Pasella, I served this with creamy mashed potatoes but at home when I made this I made the most delectable Polenta. I used NoMu’s Lamb fond in the cooking water and let me just tell you, if you don’t already have some NoMu products in your house, let the first you buy be their Fonds! It’s a concentrated stock which is thick and syrupy and you will not get a better flavour from any other convenience stock. I add a splash to literally anything!
To makes this a balanced meal I would suggest you serve some roasted or steamed vegetables along side the lamb shanks and starch. Also, some lank shanks are very big so you could easily share one between 2/3 people, which makes it more economical as well. Whatever you decide to do, just try this recipe! It is a real show-stopper and your friends and family will never know it took you minutes to prepare this dish.
- 2-4 lamb shanks, depending on size
- 1 bottle French or Greek salad dressing
- 1 onion, quartered
- 1 lemon, quartered
- fresh rosemary
- fresh origanum
- fresh garlic (you can either cut the garlic in half like I did, or just toss the whole cloves into the baking dish)
- Pre-heat the oven to 160°c.
- Place the lamb shanks in a baking dish big enough so they all lie flat.
- Pour over the salad dressing and place the onion, lemon, fresh herbs and garlic into the dish.
- Cover with foil and place in the oven for 2-3 hours.
- After this time, remove the dish from the oven and check whether the meat is softened yet. Depending on their size, they might need another hour in the oven. If they are soft, you can place them back in the oven, turn up the heat to 200°c and allow them to brown for 15 minutes. If they are not as soft as you would like them, return them to the oven, turn the heat up to 180°c and cook them for another hour, covered. When they are soft, brown them for 15 minutes.
- Serve with starch of your choice and vegetables.