Now, it might not be ‘comfort food’ season in South Africa but it certainly is in the Northern Hemisphere. And quite honestly, yesterday I needed comfort food. It was one of THOSE days where I was irritated and the twins were acting up. I often wonder why kids have this ability to be at their most difficult and challenging when you are on edge and out of patience.
But good news, we made it through the day and we were all in need of this comforting, rich and delicious meal.
Of all the cuts of Lamb, the shank is my absolute favourite. I love how it goes soft and sticky once it’s cooked and, as is the case with all good quality lamb, the flavour is so sweet and almost intense, that when you take the lid off the pot, you’re hit with the most incredible aroma. Paired with juicy, sweet tomatoes and some creamy polenta, how could this NOT be the perfect meal.
I’d never actually made polenta before this and I was utterly delighted at the result. In South Africa, a staple food is Maize Meal/Mielie Meal/Pap and Polenta is very similar, it’s just the colour that’s different. Pap he generally served with meat and a tomato based sauce and as I was eating this, I realised that THIS meal, is just fancied up “Pap & Vleis” (pap & meat). And as with pap, the reduced and thickened tomato sauce that the lamb was cooking in, went perfectly with the Polenta. I suggest you try to get the quick cooking Polenta as it only takes 2 minutes to cook. I just stirred in some parmesand and butter, seasoned to taste and it was perfection.
I served our meal with some baby spinach dressed with lemon because I always feel I need something fresh with rich stews/braises. But you could very easily leave it out and still have a fab meal.
6 lamb shanks
2 onions, finely chopped
4 carrots, finely chopped
4 garlic cloves, finely sliced
2 tins, chopped tomatoes
1 tin tomato puree
750ml lamb stock
1/2 tsp dried mint
1tsp dried parsley
salt & pepper to taste
500g polenta, cooked according to package instructions
handful of parmesan/ pecorino
- preheat the oven to 200°c.
- In a large casserole pot/ dutch oven, brown the shanks in a bit of oil. Remove from pot and set aside.
- In the same pot, add a bit more oil and fry the onions and carrots until the onions are soft and translucent. Add the garlic and sautè for another minute.
- Add the chopped tomatoes, tomato puree and lamb shanks back into the pot.
- Combine the lamb stock with the sugar and herbs and pour into the pot. Cover and place into a pre-heated oven.
- Allow the lamb shanks to braise for an hour at 200°c then turn the oven down to 160°c and allow to braise for another hour or two until the meat comes off the bone easily.
- Stir the butter and cheese into the polenta (this is optional) and serve with the lamb shanks.